Grazing Muzzles and Halters – Keep Rubs and Sores Away
In our quest to keep our horses healthy and sound, we often use grazing muzzles! Horse grazing muzzles and halters allow your horse to graze, interact with buddies, and move around. They are a tool for your horse’s health, limiting grass intake and the speed at which that grass hits their belly. Muzzles are wearable hay nets.
- We don’t want the muzzle causing more trouble than it’s worth. And they are worth their weight in gold to help prevent laminitis, but let’s keep halter rubs and sores away. This starts with a proper fit.
Grazing muzzle and halters fit
- Boy howdy – finding the perfect fit for a grazing muzzle is a bit like finding the perfect pair of jeans. Except that muzzles are adjustable!
The muzzle needs to have a breakaway crownpiece.
- It can either be a thin leather crownpiece that snaps, and some halters have a velcro mechanism connecting the crown to the cheekpiece. It seems counter-intuitive to have a muzzle breakaway, but dangerous accidents happen when horses get caught and then panic.
The muzzle basket must prevent snoots from poking out the sides or corners.
- Some muzzle designs, plus horse anatomy, leave a gap between the halter and the muzzle. Clever horses will poke a snoot through to get extra grass.
- The easiest way to extend the muzzle’s coverage is to cover the corners. These Houdini Helpers close the gap with durable and soft fabric. They work with any style of muzzle if you need some extra coverage.
This strap is the “Houdini Helper” across the corner of the muzzle.
The grazing muzzle should stay put around your horse’s mouth.
- Some smart ponies will scrape the muzzle on the ground or fence to get their faces free. Often, the muzzle will end up under their chin.
- Using a face strap from the crown of the halter to the noseband prevents this from happening. Halters can have this design built-in, or you can find adaptor pieces to customize your existing halter.
This strap and its fleece wrap over your horse’s noseband and crownpiece to convert a regular halter into a “less likely to escape” halter.
How to align the bottom of the muzzle.
- For best results and maximum ease of use, a grazing muzzle’s flat bottom should parallel the earth when your horse is grazing. Ideally, there is plenty of room around the edges of the muzzle to give your horse some space to navigate the openings.
Preventing rubs and sores from a grazing muzzle
- As my barn owner always says, “manure happens.” And so do halter rubs! Despite our best efforts for the perfect fit, rubs are bound to happen. Just make minor adjustments and carry on.
When the muzzle doesn’t fit, you will see:
- The first thing you may notice is the hair on your horse’s face has started to wear down. It might look like one area has been clipped, or the hairs are broken.
- The next step is when those broken hairs rub completely away, revealing a bald patch. These rubs commonly happen behind the ears and across your horse’s nasal bone.
- You may also notice that your horse’s whiskers are getting shorter or have disappeared. Around your horse’s mouth, you may see sores pop up, as there’s not a lot of hair for protection. Even the smallest amount of rubbing can become a sore.
Your next steps when you notice a sore or rub
- Ideally, you spot some questionable hair patches, adjust the halter’s fit first and see what happens.
Help prevent muzzle and halter rubs with these tips
- Fuzzy halter covers. I find the inexpensive cotton “fleece” covers work much better than the sheepskin. Sheepskin seems good on paper, but they get crusty and crunchy, especially after washing. The fleecy ones are machine washable and just as squishy. But, there are lots of people who find that sheepskin works best.
- Friction-blocking sticks. These blister-preventing sticks have so many uses around the barn, including your horse’s cute face. The downside is that you are applying them daily.
- Duct tape or special stickers for the sides of the muzzle. Whisker rubs and chin sores stink. Using some slippery duct tape or a GG-Equine sticker on the back of the muzzle solves this problem. You could combine this with some friction blocker if you like.
This is the back part of a muzzle where a horse’s chin may rub.
- Those lycra fly masks with the big bug eyes. Who doesn’t want a horse that looks like he’s from outer space! These uniquely designed fly masks over just enough coverage under a halter for some massive rub protection.
- It’s always tempting to “set it and forget it” after you fit your horse with his new “diet pasture device.” Of course, your horse has another plan. For muzzles to effectively limit feeding, your horse must wear one constantly while on grass.
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