You might be thinking there’s no way turnout time could be harmful to your horse. They’re in their natural habitat, indulging in fresh grass, abundant with readily available nutrients while they soak up the sun and kick up their heels. But in some instances, this all-you-can-eat buffet could do more harm than good. The lush green grass of spring and summer can put “easy keepers” or overweight horses at a higher risk for obesity and insulin resistance. This can lead to metabolic illnesses such as laminitis or equine metabolic syndrome. The rich grass is irresistible to some horses; we can’t blame them. But if you notice your horse packing on a few extra pounds or see it spending the majority of turnout munching nonstop, then it may be time to consider a grazing muzzle.
What is a Grazing Muzzle?
Grazing muzzles are a tool to help you limit your horse’s grass intake while on pasture. They effectively restrict intake without completely inhibiting grazing by only allowing your horse to nibble on little bits at a time. With a grazing muzzle, you can still allow your horse to enjoy turnout but have peace of mind that they will not over-indulge. Your horse will still be able to eat but at a much lower rate than without the muzzle.
Most muzzles fit your horse just as a halter would, with the mesh cup covering their nose and mouth. Some have a larger eating hole than others, and some offer more airflow than others. Take these things into consideration when picking out the best option for your horse.
We love the ThinLine Flexible Filly Slow Feed Grazing Muzzle as it offers the best of all worlds. This muzzle comes with the option of two different hole opening sizes and is well-ventilated for lots of airflow. The design also cuts down the risk of the muzzle getting stuck, while the pliable material reduces rubs.
Things To Keep in Mind
As with anything to do with horses, it’s not just as easy as clipping on a muzzle and forgetting about it. Especially if your horse is wearing it for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Fit: Ensure the muzzle is properly fitted for your horse before turnout. Is there anywhere it could create rubs? It should be secure but not be too tight so it doesn’t interfere with breathing.
- Time: Grazing muzzles should only be worn for 10-12 hours maximum. If their health allows, give your horse some time without the muzzle to graze normally. An effective schedule may be a muzzle on during the peak of sugar concentrations in the pasture (mid-morning through the afternoon) and off during the lowest point of sugar concentrations (night through the early morning).
- Drinking: A horse may take time to adjust to the new grazing muzzle before drinking as usual. Monitor your horse closely during the first few sessions with it on until you are certain they are comfortable and hydrating as they should.
- Herd Dynamics: Because you’ve taken away one of your horse’s defense mechanisms, grazing muzzles can affect herd dynamics. It is normal to see these changes, and simply consider changing their turnout buddies if necessary to ensure everyone is getting along.
We have a variety of grazing muzzle options available here. Or you can shop all our products at FarmVet.com 24/7. You can also call one of our friendly Sales Associates at 1-888-837-3626 or email your order to email@example.com.
Anhidrosis is another issue at risk during the heat of summer. Learn about it and some products to help here.