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when to put on grazing muzzle

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  • when to put on grazing muzzle

    Long time lurker looking for advice...

    I have a fat pony/air fern. He is an 18-year-old grade gelding. He has foundered in the past (August 2008) and recovered well, but I try to be very careful with his management because of this. He gets a handful of low starch grain with Metaboleeze and his joint supplement. He is sound and ridden 4-6 times per week. We do low level eventing - beginner-novice with aspirations of novice or maybe training level.

    For the past 2 years I owned him, he has been on fairly limited turnout - no more than six hours per day - and he has not had trouble with his weight.

    However, I moved to Maryland last fall and now keep him field boarded with two other horses. He definitely prefers living out and it seems to help his occasionally-creaky joints a lot. They share two 5-acre fields that rotate seasonally - a summer field with a lot of trees, and a winter field with a shelter and round bale feeder. When I moved here in late September, I muzzled him until they moved to the winter field and started getting round bales, around late November/early December. He wore it 24/7 until November, when we started keeping him in it every other day (I'd prefer 12/12 but my barn won't accommodate that).

    Anyways, this is a lot of background for a fairly simple question... when would it make sense to put the grazing muzzle back on? They are still presently in the winter field on a round bale because it's been unseasonably cold here lately. It seems like we're finally moving into spring and the grass is just starting to get greener. Does it seem reasonable to put the muzzle back on now? 24/7 until the new grass is in, or every other day until things are a bit more lush or they move to the rested field?

    Realistically, I think I know he's fine and starting now seems okay, but he can make some damn good sad pony faces and I just wanted to hear what other peoples' timelines look like. He tolerates it well and definitely understands how to eat and drink in it.

    For reference, this is Mr. Fatty last month. He is cresty and always has been - I do get his insulin checked regularly and so far he's always tested normal, but I basically try to treat him like an IR horse because he certainly looks it and I figure with his history it can't hurt.

  • #2
    If there isn't really any grazing right now in their current winter pasture I would wait till the grass comes in. If the barn still has them on a round bale will he be able to eat that with a muzzle on?


    • #3
      Hes really cute!

      You can put it on now. I dont think its too early. He doesnt look thin. Dont feel too sorry for him watching his buddies eating the round bale. He can still get some hay with the muzzle on.

      My mare wears hers 24/7 in the summer. The thing with 12/12 or every other day is that she can pretty much gorge herself during her break time to make up for all the time lost while she was wearing the muzzle. I dont really see great results unless she is wearing it all the time. It stinks but it works. I add some salt to her daily meal because I dont think she bothers with the salt block with the muzzle on.


      • #4
        Now -- you don't want to wait until the grass is visibly coming in, because those "turning point" days are ones where horses like yours are really vulnerable -- they can get to a lot of shoots before the ground brightens up.

        My fat pony is in hers 24/7, starting March 1.


        • #5
          Looking into this for my fat QH pony that is kept with my hard keeper broodmare. He is all too happy to clean up whatever she leaves... so where did you get your grazing muzzle? I looked at Jeffers and wasn't too impressed with what I saw...


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the responses - I think I'll go ahead and put it on and he can get used to it again. He can eat from the round bale with it on - he just buries his head in it a little more than usual.

            SouthernYankee, I've used the Best Friends muzzle and the Weaver ones from TSC. Both actually rub him a bit when he's less fuzzy, so I'm looking into the breathe-easy one from Chick's to see if that will fit him better. He has an odd head shape.


            • #7
              Originally posted by SouthernYankee View Post
              Looking into this for my fat QH pony that is kept with my hard keeper broodmare. He is all too happy to clean up whatever she leaves... so where did you get your grazing muzzle? I looked at Jeffers and wasn't too impressed with what I saw...
              I got several of the Best Friend, from Valley Vet. If i remember correctly, they come with a spare breakaway side release halterbuckle.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


              • #8
                Forgive my questions but I've never been around one of these in use...

                Can he eat grain with this on? I feed square bale alfalfa hay, can he eat that too? In the perfect world I could seperate him from the hard keeper but she has anxiety issues and has to have a companion. The only saving grace is he is at the bottom of the pecking order and only gets what she doesn't clean up... but she is a very messy eater... I'm hoping this would be a great alternative to his obesity... And will help when he gets turned out in the big pasture this summer...


                • #9
                  I put my mare back in her muzzle two days ago. That's when I noticed she and the other mares in her group stopped hanging around the round bale and were up at the far side of the pasture grazing the new grass coming in.


                  • #10
                    Any time now--minimal down side.
                    Click here before you buy.


                    • #11
                      I am VA and put mine on my air fern a few weeks ago. He was literally stuffing himself with hay 24/7. The grass is starting to come in now and you want to prevent him from starting to gain weight because they can put it on really fast. Mine gets rubs on the top of his nose so I bought a sheepskin cover from ebay and it's been much better. I won't be able to use it during the heat of the summer but usually I can fade away the muzzle because the grass kind of dies out from the heat.


                      • Original Poster

                        I went ahead and put it back on last night. No drama - although I did put a treat in the muzzle to placate him at least a little bit. I was thinking of trying a sheepskin cover for it, so I'm glad to hear that's helped.

                        SouthernYankee, I take it off to feed grain. He eats out of a feed bag and it wouldn't fit over the muzzle. He doesn't seem to have any problems eating hay with the muzzle on, it just slows him down. I don't think he could eat out of a bag or net, but on the ground or in his round bale feeder, he does fine. I also can't separate him out - he has a history of fence jumping on his own - but so far just muzzling has slowed him down enough that I haven't had to try to put him on a dry lot or anything. Knock on wood.


                        • #13
                          My fat boy just got his Best Friends grazing muzzle today. He was not amused. However, I spied him at the waterer within 30 minutes - drinking w/ ease, so I am guessing that he's going to adjust. Fingers crossed!
                          Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                          • #14
                            I've put my little marshmallow's muzzle on when she gets grass.
                            I was out of commission all winter and wow, she gained weight.
                            Add to her petite frame and her dinky feet and that muzzle is going on right now. Our grass is just starting to green up but I'm not taking any chances.



                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SouthernYankee View Post
                              Forgive my questions but I've never been around one of these in use...

                              Can he eat grain with this on?
                              OP said: "I have a fat pony/air fern."

                              You do not feed a fat pony/air fern, or a fat horse/air fern grain.

                              Now is the time for a muzzle. That way they can get used to it now.

                              Not much grass out there now, but there is some.


                              • #16
                                I had to mow my lawn last week, so I also started putting on the muzzles.