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Horse Care

Choosing a Grazing Muzzle

Horses are physiologically designed to graze nearly constantly (up to 15 hours a day), but health issues such as obesity and high risk for grass founder can make it necessary to restrict their grass intake. Though the idea of strapping a contraption on a horse’s face can seem like cruel and unusual punishment, it’s important to remember that by not using one on an at-risk horse, you may be literally “killing him with kindness.”



No matter which type of muzzle you choose, it’s important to know a few things:



The length of the pasture grass will affect how a muzzle works. If grass is very short, the horse’s teeth won’t be able to grasp it through the hole in the bottom of the muzzle.

Horses should not wear muzzles 24/7, so a modified turnout schedule may be necessary.

Muzzle use can affect herd dynamics; adjustments to turnout groups may be needed.

The original plastic basket-style grazing muzzles have seen many design upgrades to help keep them in place with less rubbing. Here’s a look at some of the different options on the market today.


Best Friend Grazing Muzzle

$39.99-$59.99; available from most online tack shops

Features:
Multiple sizes available
Comes with breakaway halter for improved safety
Higher sides make it more difficult for horses to remove
Five adjustment points
Padded noseband helps prevent rubs
Synthetic material deters mildew and rot


ThinLine Flexible Filly

$68.00; thinlineglobal.com

Features:
Lighter and softer than other muzzles
Durable yet pliable
Easy on equine teeth
Less restrictive of behaviors like mutual grooming
Well-ventilated
Size of grazing hole is customizable
Has UV protection for sensitive skin
Comes with six-month warranty


Green Guard

$99.95; gg-equine.com

Features:
Less likely to rub
Larger holes along basket allow moisture and debris to move through
Multiple sizes available
Drains water well after drinking
Durable and lightweight
Made of strong plastic material
One-year warranty for breakage or wear
Adjustable


Tough1 Easy Breathe

Mini to draft sizes available, $37.88-$52.88;
jtidist.com

Features:
Large breathing holes for comfort
Short sides offer improved airflow
Bottom of muzzle is extra thick
Added attachments available for ponies
Can be purchased with or without attached halter


Best Friend Have a Heart Muzzle

$56.99; intrepidintl.com

Features:
Adjustable noseband for hard-to-fit horses
V-strap makes it harder to remove
Two breakaway buckles for safety
Durable


Shires Deluxe Comfort

$39.99; shop.shiresequestrian.com

Features:
Cut-back design to avoid pressure points under chin
Fleece padding around nose to protect delicate structures
D-ring allows lead rope to be attached to muzzle
Head and throat snap have anti-chafe padding
Fully adjustable breakaway harness
Taller sides of muzzle mean less chance for horses to remove it


Harmany Grazing Muzzle

$57.99-$98.99; shop.harmanyequine.com

Features:
Crafted from strong plastic
Hole size can be customized
Moldable in hot water to each horse’s unique shape
Lightweight and breathable
Multiple sizes available
Mold-resistant


This article about grazing muzzles appeared in the March 2022 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Sarah E. Coleman

Based in Lexington, Ky., Sarah Coleman has a soft spot for chestnuts with chrome, including her off-the-track Thoroughbred, Chisholm. The pair competes in the hunters.

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