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Grazing Muzzle Users - UPDATE; Tips on teaching horse to use the muzzle?

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  • Grazing Muzzle Users - UPDATE; Tips on teaching horse to use the muzzle?

    So, after a scary colic episode caused by my mare overloading on grass, I'm trying to make a few hard decisions on her diet. Right now, she is on no grass unless I handgraze her, and for now I only let her have a few bites. I do plan on upping that over time, but we just had the colic this week, so I want to give her body some time to settle.

    Anyways, today while I was turning the other horses out into the grass pastures, my mare was giving me the most pitiful looks while nickering and pacing the fenceline in her dry lot. She didn't understand why she wasn't going out on grass like everyone else. I felt horrible, even though after a few minutes she settled back down and realized she wasn't going out that day. Her pasturemate didn't go out either, so at least she's not alone. But it still made me very sad to see her give me that, "Don't I get to go, too?" look.

    Originally, my plan was to just stop letting her have grass completely, and stick to the dry lot while being fed hay 3 - 4x a day. But now I'm beginning to think turning her out on the grass, WITH A GRAZING MUZZLE to prevent overeating into sickness again, might be in fact a kinder option. That way she can go out on grass with everybody else, and gets to eat all day whereas in the dry lot she gets the 3 allotted feedings.

    I do worry that she'll be depressed in the muzzle, though! There are two other horses who wear them at my barn, and honestly they don't even seem to notice they have them on! But it's still a concern. Also, this mare panics easily if she feels something tight against her poll. If she gets the muzzle caught on something, it MUST breakaway easily. Does anyone have any experience with that?

    So basically, grazing muzzle users, I'd love some comments and experiences. She would wear the muzzle 7 hours TOPS, but it would probably be more like 5-6. Then in the evenings, she'd be back in the dry lot with her pasturemate, without it.

    And again, it would be to prevent her from overeating on the grass and colicking, because she only gets turned out on grass weather permitting, so if it rains for 3 days, she gets no grass for 3 days, then on the 4th day she goes back out on grass all day, gorges herself, and gets sick. THAT is what I am trying to prevent.
    Last edited by sublimequine; Sep. 25, 2008, 08:52 PM.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

  • #2
    What kind of colic was it? Grass is generally a low colic risk food. Sounds like a big part of the problem might be the drastic diet changes on a regular basis. What did the vet say about the horse eating grass?
    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by saultgirl View Post
      What kind of colic was it? Grass is generally a low colic risk food. Sounds like a big part of the problem might be the drastic diet changes on a regular basis. What did the vet say about the horse eating grass?
      Waiting for the call back from the vet. I also agree about the changes, going from grass to no grass, but that really can't be helped. The pastures are not large enough for her to be on them 24/7 and not get overgrazed.
      Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


      • #4
        Are you boarding or on your own farm?


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
          Are you boarding or on your own farm?
          Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


          • #6
            I just recently was reduced to buying a grazing muzzle for my almost obese Paint mare. She, too, coliced recently and it was suggested that I limit her grazing time since the grass is so lush right now, and she could stand to lose some weight while she's dealing with a broken hip.

            So, I bought the Best Friend grazing muzzle and the first day I put it on her and spent about an hour trying to teach her how to get grass with it. She was perfectly fine while I was out there showing her, but when I left the paddock, she stood stock still for the longest time. Then she tried to shake it off. Then she tried to rub it off. Then she tried to paw it off. Then she stood like a statue with this look of utter disbelief on her face.

            Every time she'd see me, she whinny and whinny as if to say, "Hey, YOU, you left this thing on me, you know !"

            I felt absolutely terrible. She finally figured it out, and figured out how to get a drink with it on. She had to try to rub it off on the water trough first, then when she was done drinking, she's shake her head like crazy and all the water left in the thing would go flying.

            She was not happy with it, but did manage to graze alongside her best buddy ( who needs all the grass he can get ) without me worrying about the consequences to her. She'll get over it !
            "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you..."


            • #7
              In my experience, yes, your mare is going to hate you. My horse and miniature donkey resented theirs terribly, and resented me terribly for putting the muzzles on them. It got so bad that I had a HECK of a time catching my normally-friendly horse in a two-acre field! And my donkey was so resentful that he wouldn't eat the apple and carrot snacks I dropped into the muzzle to sweeten the deal.

              I was very grateful when the vet said the muzzles were no longer necessary. We all three were.

              That said, if my beloved horse were recovering from a near-death colic experience, I'd put the muzzle back on. Though your horse can't understand the options, turn out with a grazing muzzle and a tiny bit of grass through the hole is better than no turn out and no grass.

              I'm sorry you're in this predicament.
              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


              • #8
                My roly-poly Arab mare doesn't like hers, but she comes to me to have it put on every morning after breakfast. She is worth her (substantial) weight in gold....


                • #9
                  Several thoughts:
                  Grass to no grass is worse than dry lot to muzzle daily.
                  Most horses get used to muzzles. I have used them a lot and no one starves to death or doesn't learn to drink with them. Some do learn to get them off on a regular basis so tie some bright ribbon on it so when it is lost in the pasture you can find it. Braid the forelock into the crown. But be sure there is a breakaway feature somewhere on the halter.
                  My pony is so adapt at using the muzzle, she doesn't lose weight. If good at it, they can get more than a tiny amount of grass through that little hole so don't put it on and not monitor weight, etc.


                  • #10
                    My girl wore one occassionally and then she had a founder on spring grass. She lived on the dirt lot for months. She used to not like the muzzle but now knows it means she gets to go out. I'm sure she doesn't love it but she lives with it. Keep a close eye out for rubs though. I ended up putting sheepskin under the chin because she kept rubbing herself raw there.

                    I taught another horse to use a muzzle this year too and the first day she protested (like a typical arab.) Then, when she realized wearing one on my lush pastures was her new reality she was out there eating with it. If your horse is super sensitive it might help to let it air out for a day so the plastic smell fades. My friend ended up packing hers with hay and letting it sit for a day so it smelled more like food and less like plastic. Her little mare was a bit of a smart aleck though mixed with primadonna.

                    I put bright pink duct tape on mine so I can see it from across the pasture. I'll call out the horse's name so she lifts her head and I can see the pink duct tape. I'm paranoid about her losing it, but she's pretty good about concentrating on eating. I think in some way she realizes her feet feel better now too so she lives with it.
                    Last edited by PalominoMorgan; Sep. 21, 2008, 09:49 AM. Reason: spelling
                    "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
                    you have a right to be here." ~ Desiderata by Max Ehrmann


                    • #11
                      The ones I have used them on were definitely not fans, but they got over it. My guy is so food motivated that I put a stud muffin in the bottom to help ease the application (and the fact that he's 17.2 and if he doesn't want something on his face I am too short to do anything about it!).

                      I did become his best friend when I was the one taking it off, though .


                      • #12
                        My roly poly filly is muzzled every day and definitely does not hate anyone. Yes, she gave me a serious guilt trip for the first few days. But she quickly realized the muzzle was not the end of the world, especially given the alternative of being isolated in the round pen or stuck in a stall.

                        Of course, she's pretty good at destroying them... I go through a grazing muzzle a month.
                        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                        • #13
                          I just put one on my IR horse this week and he definitely doesn't think too much of me right now. He has tried and tried to get it off and has had no luck. He doesn't try to graze at all - he just stands around and looks miserable. I found him laying flat out on his side in the pasture this morning - I guess he figured if he couldn't eat, he would just sleep! I'm noticing that the top of the muzzle itself is rubbing his nose some. I hope this doesn't get any worse because I don't know what I can do to stop it from chafing him. Anybody else had this problem with rubbing?
                          Susan N.

                          Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                          • #14
                            My pony has lived in hers for years. She's fine and I don't worry about colic or founder. Definitely worth letting them live as naturally as possible. And if she "hated" me when I first put it on (which I doubt!), so what? I'm doing it for her sake.
                            "Dreams are the touchstone of our characters." Henry David Thoreau
                            Touchstone Farm


                            • #15
                              Things we found out with our horse in this:

                              If we used a few small baby carrots and fed them to him through the hole in the bottom of the mask, he picked the eating technique just fine.

                              Short grass is easier for them to nip up through the hole then the long blades are, which is good, because the long blades are more packed with sugar than the short ones are.

                              Some of the Best Friend's muzzles hold up better than others do. I think it has to do with the grade of materials changing from one manufacturing run to another. The real Best Friend's muzzle that is made like a halter has a plastic clip on it that is a safety breakaway feature. The knockoff sold by Country Supply has a long velcro strip along the cheek piece that has more hold to it than the plastic disc does. Also, the plastic disc with the hole in it on the bottom is replaceable on both masks.

                              If the halter style is used, it is best to anchor it down with another field halter if you have a Houdini that can get out of these things.

                              Horses in muzzles take in 1/3 of the grass those without muzzles get, in the same amount of time. However, if you take the muzzle off and turn them out onto grass, they start eating faster than they did before, and it doesn't always slow back down to the pre-muzzle rate.

                              Our verdict: the horse was happier being turned out with the muzzle then being separated from the herd in a stall or a dry lot. He drank well with it on, and could still play with his friends. After the h*ll we went through from the laminitis episode that brought the whole muzzle-wearing on, I didn't care how badly we felt. Better alive and well than in misery and pain. The muzzle stayed on.
                              "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                              • #16
                                My mare got some pretty nasty rubs from her muzzle. We have the halter style and the basket style. We've been using the basket style. She had some rubs under her chin and also on her nose. I took a sheepskin halter piece, cut out a notch for the lead ring on her halter, and put it on her turnout/muzzle halter. It stopped the rubbing because there was less friction. I think she altered her grazing technique too and it alowed her to push on the back of the muzzle more. I also made sure I gooped the blisters up really good with Horseman's Dream the whole time the muzzle was off (in her stall or the dry lot.)

                                If you really had to you could probably sew some sheepskin around the whole top with some upholestry thread. Better to have the muzzle on than be stuck on the dry lot or founder again.
                                "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
                                you have a right to be here." ~ Desiderata by Max Ehrmann


                                • #17
                                  My mare lives out in her muzzle. She didnt like it at first and would run to me when i came to check on her so i would take it off, but after a few days she didnt mind it. Now she's really good at grazing with it so she does fine.
                                  It rubs her chin and nose so i put fleece halter things on the chin part, but i need to replace them because there getting pretty worn down

                                  The result is worth the few days she hated me! i rather her wear it then "look bigger than the broodmares" as my trainer likes to put it!


                                  • #18
                                    My pony comes forward eagerly to get her muzzle on (that doesn't mean she's above trying to get it off, but I've got THAT trick solved) so I figure in her mind a little grass is better than sitting in the dirt paddock all day.

                                    She knows muzzle means PASTURE and believe me, she's opinionated enough to make her feelings perfectly clear. Doesn't mind the muzzle on and walks right up to poke her nose in.
                                    Click here before you buy.


                                    • #19
                                      We have a few mares here who don't much care for theirs, but they get over it when they can go out and get some grass
                                      Unbridled Oaks - Champion Sport Ponies and Welsh Cobs

                                      Like us on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/unbridledoaks


                                      • #20
                                        its hard, I know, but....

                                        Sometimes, it is difficult to do the right thing for your horse, because you know they won't like it, or appreciate it, or any number of things. You have to make the tough decision, and stick with it. Everyone will be happier for it. The same is true of children as well, LOL.

                                        Both of my Arabian butterball mares wear grazing muzzles, because as soon as they even LOOKED at grass, they porked up. I was very concerned about founder/colic, because they would just come back in stuffed to the gills, and were getting quite overweight. When the vet came for shots, she asked me when my mare was due (yikes, I felt like an ass--almost as if she had asked me personally when I was due, lol), and then proceeded along with some good humored ribbing with a subtle message behind it--DIETS NOW. Seriously, that did it. I limited their turnout time, ie. stalled during the day with hay, in the dry lot at night with hay. Lil 13.3hh Jodi actually BROKE her stall door one day, she hates to be cooped up so much. THAT was making them more unhappy and restive, being in and away from the friends...after awhile, we progressed to an hour turnout on grass (sans muzzles, I hadn't introduced them yet), with them munching furiously, to two hours, etc.; long story short, they are now out all night with grazing muzzles on, dry lot during the day. I was most concerned about how it would affect the amount of water they normally drink--but they did that within 2 hours of being out with muzzles on the first time, so no worries there. The entire process has been ongoing since June; they have been out all night with their muzzles on for about a month. IMHO, muzzles should not be mistaken for a quick fix. I took them off of grass completely for quite a while, then had to slowly reacclimate them to it, to reduce the risk of colic.

                                        No, they didn't like it. Yes, they did require some "schooling" on proper manners when the grazing muzzles went on, but it took them all of about three days to figure out that if I put the muzzles on, they were going out in the big pasture with the herd and now stand quietly for the muzzles to be put on. It also took them all of 5 minutes to learn to eat with one, I just picked handfuls of grass, and poked it up through there. When turned out that first time, they messed about, rubbing, etc., then figured out how to eat with it. I love my Arabians, they are intelligent girls.

                                        Now, they are fine with it, no issues. My mare did get hers off on day one, but that was my fault for not making the halter snug enough.She wears a breakaway grazing muzzle/halter--all one piece. She does get small sores from it underneath, which I treat and aren't bad. Much better than having to treat her for founder or colic, in my book. My other mare wears a basket-type muzzle on a breakaway halter. However, I am going to get both mares the fleece lined muzzles I just saw the other day.

                                        Do what you have to do, and move on to the next thing.

                                        Hope this helps, and good luck!!
                                        My lovely girls:
                                        Cloud Chaser H (Europia x Silver Lining EA, by Fame VF) and
                                        BW Jodilee (DBM Silladdinn x Hana of Nizzor, by Lewisfield Nizzor)