Grazing Muzzle: would it be enough? Advice needed. - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 14 Old 01-06-2013, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Question Grazing Muzzle: would it be enough? Advice needed.

Hey there everybody.

To make a long story short, I'm going to need to move my horse to another boarding stable soon. There are only a few stables within reasonable driving distance from my house so naturally I'm strongly considering every one of them.

So, while I haven't seen it recently, I did visit one of these close places a few years ago. They have ample turn-out and room to run, not to mention lots of fun trails. The problem was the grass. Oh man, the grass there is incredible! My location is known for its lush spring grass but this particular barn took it a step further. It was tall, thick, and so intensely emerald green that it made my head spin. Perhaps the pasture had been planted with something special; I didn't ask then but I will when I go back to check it out in the coming months.

The horses were all turned out in huge pastures just overflowing with the beautiful Spring grass. I remember that they were very, ah... curvy. They had unrestricted all-day access to it. None of them were tender on their feet at the time that I saw them, but they were standing on soft footing.

Now, my horse is a stocky Paint and a very easy keeper. Her hoof trimmer, who is a very knowledgeable man, owns two insulin resistant horses of his own and he has told me that my horse shows subtle signs of having low level insulin-resistant-tendencies. From my own research I think that he is right. It has never been a problem though.

You know what's coming next, right? I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could get away with boarding my horse there if she wore a grazing muzzle. Do you think that it would be able to restrict her grazing enough to keep her out of trouble? I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with grazing muzzles. Please, fire away! It's going to be important for me to know as much as possible about this because pretty much all of the available places have more grass than I would like. I'm going to need some way to deal with it either way.

Also, if by some chance she managed to pull the muzzle off and got in several good hours of stuffing herself before anybody noticed, would she be likely to founder or colic from the sudden increase in grass intake? I'm worried about that.

Am I nuts? Here's I picture that I have very wrongly stolen from their ad:

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post #2 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by WalnutPixie View Post
Her hoof trimmer, who is a very knowledgeable man, owns two insulin resistant horses of his own and he has told me that my horse shows subtle signs of having low level insulin-resistant-tendencies. From my own research I think that he is right. It has never been a problem though.It will be, the older she gets. Kudos to your farrier for giving you a heads up. If he has two IR horses, I would take his warning seriously.

Do you think that it would be able to restrict her grazing enough to keep her out of trouble?Every horse is different. My EMS horse only needs muzzled during Spring grass, the IR horses needs muzzled 9 months out of 12, where I live.

Pretty much all of the available places have more grass than I would like. I'm going to need some way to deal with it either way.Boarding puts horses like this in a really tough position, unless you are able to monitor her every single day

Also, if by some chance she managed to pull the muzzle off and got in several good hours of stuffing herself before anybody noticed, would she be likely to founder or colic from the sudden increase in grass intake?Without a doubt. She could founder herself in a Skinny Minute and undo everything you tried to do all Spring, keeping her in a grazing muzzle.
When you say "turned out", is that 24/7? Assuming it is, that's still a huge issue eventhough night time grass is much safer than day time grass. You cannot leave the muzzle on 24/7. It has to come off to give her a break and also to help prevent frustration on her part and rubbing her raw.

Ideally, she could be out at night and in during the day. Second-best is to put the muzzle on her for day time turnout and bring her in at night with someone literally weighing her quality grass/mix hay on scale. No legume hays (alfalfa, etc) for horses like this.

At least you have more than one boarding facility close by. IMHO, your concern is finding a facility that will take the time to accommodate this horse's potential health issues. Finding one with a nice indoor/outdoor should come after that.

Regarding muzzles, there are various styles and prices. I prefer the Tough-1 Easy Breath from Chick's saddlery. It's not only the cheapest one but it has a breakaway and the grazing hold is a tch bigger than on Best Friend or Weaver. That means the horse isn't trying to chew the rubber off the muzzle to get more grass and ruin its teeth. They keep the frustration level of the horse down a bit more
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 08:10 AM
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Even when horses are out 24/7 hay should be provided. Since my horses are at home I've had an excellent opportunity to watch their dining habits. As the spring grass starts coming in, they will graze it for perhaps 5 minutes then go to the hay. After their late morning snooze they will graze again, for just a few minutes then head for the hay. About the time they start grazing for longer periods the biting insects show up and the horses hide in the barn during the day where they get hay. They won't come out until almost dark and graze some during the night. So they are in when the sugars in the grass are at their highest. I think horses know what they need but we fence them in and deny their natural forage which is quite varied. I've taken a horse for a walk in spring, mid summer and again in the fall and was amazed at the variety. Also there are plants/grasses they won't touch in the spring but may in mid summer or fall, built in natural rotation.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 09:33 AM
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^^^my four are not anywhere near that self-disciplined.

They have 22 acres and as soon as the Spring grass hits, they will let the hay I throw for them rot in the rain. It's a good thing they can breath while eating because heads do not come up for air

As soon as my horses start walking right past the hay piles I need to get muzzles on, although last March they were still eating from the hay piles and my most difficult to control IR horse foundered.

It was the second week of March with hard frosts followed by quick warm-ups and temps in the 50-60 area. Those temps got the grass roots busy shooting fructans up to the new grass and all that excessive sugar went right to that horse's hooves. The result was 8 - 9 rotation on the LF and 5 degrees on the RF.

Horses that are easy keepers and prone to metabolic problems (like the farrier says the OP's horse is), most often do not regulate their eating. - it's about gorging because their insulin level is slowly going out of whack and they think they're hungry all the time.

While my EMS horse grazes in a normal manner and takes breaks thru the day, the IR horse is still trying to pound down the entire 22 acres by nightfall

While they need hay, these types of horses should not be eating off roundbales, they literally do need their hay weighed. They can't be starved because that leads to other issues, like colic and/or ulcers, but their hay needs weighed and fed to them frequently if that is possible

Again, it depends on the severity. My EMS horse (equine metabolic syndrome) regulates himself very well. I can load him up with hay at night (without weighing it) and know he's got enough to get him thru until I get down to the barn in the morning.

The IR horse has to have his hay in a slow feeder hay net in order to have anything left by morning I do give him more than the standard 2% during the winter.

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post #5 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 07:37 PM
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I muzzle my 23yr old cushing horse spring though fall and I always have to buy a second muzzle because he wears the hole in the muzzle to big. He's only out for 10-12 hours too, if he was out 24/7 I'd probably be going through 4 a years!
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 07:46 PM
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From my experience horses will still eat hay when the grass comes in. It is full of water and isn't enough fiber for them when it is young. If they are turning their nose up at the hay then you might not have very good hay.
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by churumbeque View Post
If they are turning their nose up at the hay then you might not have very good hay.
Where mine are concerned, that's their problem. They don't have a bit of problem chowing down on that same hay when it's in their stalls at night, or if they're waiting in that one acre, waiting to be called in for the night

I pay premium price, in my area, for high quality orchard grass/mix, 99.9% weed and clover free and I have to get it tested thanks to my two metabolic horses.

Nothing wrong with the hay - they just want grass

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post #8 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by churumbeque View Post
From my experience horses will still eat hay when the grass comes in. It is full of water and isn't enough fiber for them when it is young. If they are turning their nose up at the hay then you might not have very good hay.
My horses always take the grass over hay and my hay is very good hay. Horses perfer fresh grass over hay if given a choice. At least that's the case with my three pigs. Just because they don't want too eat the hay doesnt mean its not good.
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 09:00 PM
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My mare wears a muzzle all summer. Atleast, she did last year. She's on a huge 3 acre pasture with one other horse. I muzzled her and she didnt loose or gain anymore weight and I muzzled her from about 4am-12 or 3pm. She wouldn't eat with it on but I figured if she ain't gaining or loosing much weight it must be helping. I don't need her foundering. She's 14 hands. My gelding did manage to pull it off of her a few times and she never coliced or foundered thank god but I can't be there to babysit her while its on as I'm usually at work.
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-08-2013, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all very much for your help! You've put things into perspective for me and it sounds like I need to know a lot more about grass than I do now. I just ordered a few lectures from SaferGrass; hopefully those will help me make a more educated decision.

WalkintheWalk, you are wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to write so much for me! It's fascinating that SaddleBag's horses regulate themselves but WalkingtheWalk's IR horses don't. I suppose that it does make sense; I have certainly known plenty of humans who never feel satiated and plenty who self-regulate.


Quote:
It will be, the older she gets. Kudos to your farrier for giving you a heads up. If he has two IR horses, I would take his warning seriously.

Aw no! Really? My farrier is brilliant, yes. I'm careful to heed his warnings.

When you say "turned out", is that 24/7? Assuming it is, that's still a huge issue eventhough night time grass is much safer than day time grass. You cannot leave the muzzle on 24/7. It has to come off to give her a break and also to help prevent frustration on her part and rubbing her raw.

Hmm. I don't know. That's a very important thing to know about, though, and I hadn't yet thought about nearly anything that you mentioned. O.O

Quote:
Without a doubt. She could founder herself in a Skinny Minute and undo everything you tried to do all Spring, keeping her in a grazing muzzle.
Eep!

Quote:
My gelding did manage to pull it off of her a few times and she never coliced or foundered thank god
Oh heaven preserve me, so it does happen! That's the stuff of nightmares, surely. I'm glad that your mare was ok!

I am here to learn! :)

Last edited by WalnutPixie; 01-08-2013 at 03:36 PM.
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