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The Very Best Grazing Muzzles, and Why Your Horse Needs One

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We bought some young horses that all had health issues and needed to be on a special diet. To limit their grass intake, I decided that my best option was using grazing muzzles with a couple of them. However, I wanted an effective model that didn’t cause any discomfort or stress.

The best grazing muzzles limit a horse’s grass intake, are durable, and don’t cause sores or infections from rubbing. A grazing muzzle also needs to fit correctly and is not easy for your horse to remove.

There are many different grazing muzzles available, so it can be tough to decide which is right for your horse. In this article, I discuss the best grazing muzzles for horses and provide tips on choosing the right one.

Picture of a horse with a grass belly
Two-year-old filly (February)

We recently bought the filly pictured above, and as you can see, she is not in the best condition. We wormed her and started her on a feeding program of grain and high-quality hay. I’m also limiting her grass intake with a grazing muzzle. I will update her pictures after a couple of months.

Picture of a two year old filly.
Two-year-old filly (August)

Above is a recent picture of our filly. I took this picture in August; as you can see, she has come a long way in her journey; the grazing muzzle played a role, along with exercise and high-quality grain and hay.

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Note: I ordered a new grazing muzzle, the Flexible Filly Grazing Muzzle, to try. Once we test it, I’ll write a review. It looks like a really great product that’s easy to use and comfortable for horses.

The Very Best Grazing Muzzles for Horses: Our Top Picks

If you’re like most horse owners, you want your horse to have the best life possible. One way to do that is by using a grazing muzzle. A grazing muzzle allows your horse to graze freely while still limiting the amount of food they can eat. This is a great way to help keep your horse healthy and fit.

picture of a horse wearing the Intrepid grazing muzzle.

Intrepid International Best Friend Have a Heart Muzzle

The Intrepid International is a standard grazing muzzle with an adjustable strap that helps to keep it in place. It isn’t rough on your horse’s nose, but you still need to keep an eye on the spots where the grazing muzzle touches your horse.

Overall this is a nice grazing model, and it’s priced reasonably.

picture of the TGW grazing muzzle,

TGW RIDING Horse Grazing Muzzle

The TGW grazing muzzle is made of durable poly/nylon and outlasts many higher-priced muzzles. The downside is the material is stiff.

The muzzle allows adequate airflow with large openings on the side. It has a small hole to all the horse eats through, which definitely limits intake.

picture of the Tough-1 grazing muzzle,

Tough-1 Delux Easy Breathe V Grazing Muzzle

The Tough 1 easy-breathe grazing muzzle is the most popular muzzle used in my area. What makes it so popular is the design allows for easy adjustments. If you need to tighten or use it on different-sized horses.

Tough 1 is also offered for sale at a lot of the local feed stores. Overall the Tough 1 muzzle works well and doesn’t restrict airflow.

picture of the Shires deluxe grazing muzzle,

Shires Deluxe Grass Muzzle

The Shire Deluxe muzzle is a great option for horses that tend to develop problems wearing grazing muzzles. These come with wool padding around the muzzle and chin.

The Shire muzzle is adjustable and has a D-ring, so you can attach a lead rope. My problem with the muzzle is that the padding is too hot for some areas in the summer.

They also take patience to get on your horse. But overall, for the price and protection, it is a bargain. If you order the Shire, double-check to make sure you are ordering the correct size for your horse, they make multiple sizes.

Prairie Horse Supply Deluxe Comfort Lined Grazing Muzzle, Heavy Duty Waffle Neoprene with Chin and Neck Pads

picture of the Prairie Horse Supply Deluxe grazing muzzle,

The Prairie House Supply grazing muzzle is a handy model. It comes with two soft halter pads, it’s easy to get on and off your horse, and it’s useful in limiting grazing.

Yet, it is made with durable material and isn’t easy for horses to remove. Overall this is a very user-friendly grazing muzzle that should last.

The best one-piece grazing muzzles

picture of the Greenguard grazing muzzle,

GREENGUARD Grazing Muzzle

This muzzle is almost perfect; it’s lightweight, doesn’t rub, and allows plenty of air to pass so your horse doesn’t get too hot. The downside, it isn’t durable. These muzzles wear out quickly, and if you have a horse that’s rough on his gear, don’t waste your money on the Greenguard.

The following muzzles are good one-piece models:

picture of the Harmany grazing muzzle,

Harmany Grazing Muzzle  

If it fits your horse correctly, it has all the advantages you want in a grazing muzzle; it is light, airy, and doesn’t rub. However, it is difficult to adjust to some horses. Overall the Harmany Grazing Muzzle serves its purpose well and is durable.

Each of the ones I recommend is rated over four stars on Amazon. Here are the links to Amazon customer review pages so you can read for yourself what hundreds of other horsemen have to say:

Grazing Muzzles restrict grass consumption

Obesity in horses is something many people don’t think about. The cause for this condition has to do with overeating grass high in nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC), resulting in the animals taking in more calories than they need; if they continue in this manner, it can lead to diseases such as insulin resistance and laminitis among others.

To reduce your horse’s risk of developing these diseases, you need to restrict its feed intake. Grazing muzzles are an effective tool to limit their grass consumption and reduce weight in these animals while still offering them exercise that would be denied by housing them indoors.

Muzzles are available in different sizes, so selecting one that fits your horse correctly is important. The correct size should allow enough room for eating without being too loose and causing discomfort while wearing the muzzle.

You should also use breakaway halters with safety straps to eliminate any risk of injury. Also, ensure that your horse can drink water while wearing a grazing muzzle.

Grazing muzzles history

In the mid-’90s, it was unusual to see grazing muzzles used outside of the horseracing industry. However, horse owners use them today in just about every discipline.

Grazing muzzles help manage a horse’s diet when it’s turned out in a pasture. Before the advent of grazing muzzles, horse owners kept their horses in a stall to control their grass intake.

Grazing muzzles consist of webbing material formed in a basket shape that fits over a horse’s mouth. The muzzle allows minimum grass to be accessible to the wearer through a small hole at the bottom of the contraption.

A horse owner doesn’t have many options when it comes to preventing their horses from overgrazing. They can either confine a horse to its stall or use a grazing muzzle.

Picture of a thoroughbred stallion.

Why use a grazing muzzle?

If you have a horse, you may wonder if you should use a grazing muzzle. Horses evolved to graze for most of the day, so it makes sense that they may become bored or frustrated if they are not allowed to do this.

However, there are some benefits to using a grazing muzzle, so whether you are thinking about using it for the first time or are just curious about it, keep reading.

Time spent outside of a stall is healthy for horses

Stall confinement is the most common method of restricting a horse’s grass intake, but it has some adverse side effects, such as boredom, loneliness, and lack of free exercise.

Grazing muzzles are the better option for a variety of reasons:

  • horses can move freely and get exercise;
  • helps prevent boredom and associated conditions such as cribbing;
  • horses can socialize with other horses; and
  • horses can still eat small amounts of grass;

But is it essential to limit the amount of grass a horse eats? Yes. Controlling a horse’s diet is about more than just weight loss; other health risks are associated with overeating, such as colic and laminitis. Horses that overeat are prone to develop numerous health problems.

picture of a white horse grazing while wearing a grazing muzzle,

Overeating grass can lead to obesity in horses.

A horse most certainly can overeat grass. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase eat like a horse, well, horses, especially in a pasture full of rich grass, often eat way more than they should. And overeating grass leads to obesity in horses.

A horse allowed free range can consume 25 lbs of grass in a day. This amount of grass consumption greatly exceeds their recommended caloric intake without accounting for any feed or hay it may be receiving.

Obese horses are prone to develop adverse health issues

Even with exercise, a horse eating too much grass leads to excess weight and possible obesity. Overweight horses are prone to adverse health consequences, such as:

  • Increased stress on the heart and lungs
  • Higher incidents of laminitis or founder
  • Increased risk of orthopedic problems in growing horses
  • More strain on feet, joints, and limbs
  • Less efficient cooling of body temperatures
  • Dangerous fat build-up around essential organs
  • Reduced reproductive efficiency
  • More considerable lethargy and more easily fatigued

Incorporate exercise into your horse’s weight loss plan

If your horse is overweight, you not only need to manage your horse’s grazing you also need to maintain its feed intake and start a regular exercise program.

It is vital for your horse’s health that you make gradual changes to both its exercise and feeding routine. A lower-calorie diet and an increase in exercise will result in weight loss for your horse.

The proper use of grazing muzzles is an effective method to combat obesity. Click here to read an in-depth study of equine obesity, its causes, effects, and prevention.

Just like in a person, use increases metabolism and burns more calories. When a horse has fewer calories available for energy, its body will burn fat reserves as fuel.

Picture of a horse wearing a grazing muzzle.

Types of grazing muzzles.

Muzzles are an important part of horse care, and there are many different types of muzzles to choose from. Not every grazing muzzle is best for your horses. There are a variety of grazing muzzle styles, and it’s unlikely you’ll find one type that fits all our horse’s needs.

You should try different ones before settling on one particular style. When choosing any equine product, you always want to consider your horse’s best interest. There are a couple of basic models with brand-specific variations.

And a paramount consideration when choosing a grazing muzzle is the climate. For example, airflow is of paramount importance in hot, humid areas. We’ve researched the models we think are the best grazing muzzles.

Standard grazing muzzles

Standard grazing muzzles are made of plastic and nylon. The base is made of hard plastic and is attached to nylon webbing. They can be purchased as an all-in-one unit, including a halter or the muzzle.

Standard grazing muzzles are usually heavier than one-piece units, and horses tend to chew through the plastic in a few months.

One-piece molded muzzles

One-piece molded muzzles rarely cause sores because these muzzles hang down away from the horse’s mouth. These models are made from one piece of molded material, such as plastic or Kevlar.

Traditionally they are more expensive but offer benefits not found in standard muzzles; they allow better airflow and are less likely to cause sores from rubbing.

A one-piece muzzle weighs less and allows better airflow than a traditional grazing muzzle. However, they cost considerably more. It is vital that whatever grazing muzzle you choose, be sure it can break away under pressure.

The use of grazing muzzles isn’t cruel.

Grazing muzzles aren’t cruel and can be a beneficial tool to help control overgrazing in horses. However, there are some problems associated with grazing muzzles. Most can be remedied by ensuring the muzzle is fitted correctly on the horse.

Picture of a brown horse wearing a grazing muzzle.

Problems with grazing muzzles

A grazing muzzle is designed to allow the horse to eat while wearing the muzzle. However, there are some problems with using a grazing muzzle. One problem is that the horse may not be able to eat enough hay to meet its nutritional needs.

Another problem is that the horse may not be able to drink enough water if it’s hot out. If a horse doesn’t have access to water, it can dehydrate very quickly. Additionally, muzzles can be uncomfortable for horses and can cause rubbing sores.

Grazing muzzles can cause sores.

Sores and infections caused by muzzles are the most prevalent problem. Many muzzles are designed to fit tightly, resulting in the material rubbing a horse’s nose and chin when it chews.

The constant rubbing in these areas causes chafing sores, and sometimes the sores become infected. It is best to add sheepskin, another soft material inside the muzzle where it contacts the horse.

If you find abrasions treat the sores and take steps to avoid contact in these areas the next time you fit your horse with its muzzle. Also, wash the grazing muzzle between uses with a mild antibacterial soap.

Grazing Muzzles trap moisture and germs.

Dirt and debris are often trapped inside a muzzle. The foreign material can cause friction and irritation resulting in cuts and scrapes on the horse’s nose and chin.

The muzzle also traps moisture and creates heat, which can lead to bacteria growth and infection. The webbing of the muzzle gets wet when horses drink. Depending on the climate, the damp strap could become a breeding ground for undesirable bacteria and make your horse sick.

Grazing muzzles restrict airflow.

Most grazing models provide wide webbing; however, some muzzles cover a horse’s nostrils and restrict airflow, which results in breathing deficiency.

Muzzles secured close to a horse’s nostrils can cause issues for horses with heaves. When choosing a grazing muzzle for your horse, consider airflow. This Tough-1 grazing muzzle is explicitly designed to allow better airflow.

Grazing muzzles can get hung up on a fence post.

There are also concerns about muzzles getting hung up or caught on fixed objects like fence posts. A horse could be severely injured if the muzzle is made of sturdy nylon without a breakaway mechanism.

If you can fit more than two fingers, the muzzle is too loose, could be pulled off, and is prone to get snagged. A muzzle fit too tightly will cause rashes or sores. Consider buying a breakaway grazing muzzle.

These muzzles allow a horse to pull free if the muzzle gets caught. Click this link to check out a hardy stand-alone breakaway muzzle by Best Friend.

Picture of horses in a pasture

Can horses drink while wearing a grazing muzzle?

Yes, horses can drink when wearing a grazing muzzle. Most muzzles are designed to allow horses to drink and the excess water to drain from the bottom of the muzzle.

Some grazing models drain too slowly, and water stays in the muzzle longer than it should. If this occurs frequently, a horse will avoid drinking and become dehydrated.

Because a horse’s grazing muzzles get wet while drinking, the muzzle has to be removed daily. It is imperative to have fresh water available to your horse to prevent it from dehydrating.

Below is a YouTube video explaining the use of grazing muzzles.

FAQ

How tight should a grazing muzzle be?

A grazing muzzle should not fit tight. The muzzle should be about one inch from your horse’s mouth and allow enough space for you to place two fingers between the horse’s face and the muzzle.

How much does a horse eat with a grazing muzzle?

It depends on the pasture grass’s length, the grazing muzzle’s type, and the muzzle’s fit. Generally, grazing muzzles reduce a horse’s grass intake by approximately one-third.

How long should a horse wear a grazing muzzle?

A horse should not stay in a grazing muzzle for more than 10 hours a day. Leaving a horse in a grazing muzzle too long is cruel and can lead to a host of health issues, such as infection, dehydration, or excessive weight loss. Always remove a grazing muzzle daily.