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GRAZING MUZZLES & their role in helping to prevent founder…

On Monday I will post part 1 of a wonderful 3 part article about a horse called Missy and her journey of recovery from severe founder/laminitis. So, as a related subject and very relevant to the season right now, I decided to post an article about… GRAZING MUZZLES, and the important role they can play in giving our founder prone horses a better, more natural life during these dangerous Spring months.

Many people have mixed feelings about grazing muzzles…Indeed, up until about 2 years ago, I myself had never used and them and felt they were just a tad cruel…

But, after struggling with my Arab gelding and his chronic founder issues for 2 years I finally decided to give a grazing muzzle a try. My poor horse Champ couldn’t take another day of being cooped up in a small dirt paddock watching other horses going out to graze…So I went out and bought the most comfortable, nicest looking muzzle I could find, and proceeded to introduce Champ to it. To make a long story short, these days Champ is a pro at grazing with his muzzle on. He can drink easily with it one and doesn’t mind it in the least. It has honestly given him a new lease on life, and allowed him to live a more natural life without the danger of foundering again from too much grass. Here are a few tips, some common questions and just general info that could help you and you horse adapt to wearing a grazing muzzle.

For those with reservations about the use of grazing muzzles:

If you have reservations about using grazing muzzles there are many articles in equine publications and on-line about the use and effectiveness of grazing muzzles for you to read.  Here is an excerpt from the March 2006 issue of The Horse Journal:

“We hope you have accepted the idea of a grazing muzzle, but expect to get raised eyebrows and the occasional “it’s mean” remark from the uninformed.  Remind those who criticize that nothing is as cruel as the pain of laminitis or forcing your horse to live its life in stall confinement.  We’re betting that a few years from now it will be rare to drive by a pasture and not see at least one horse sporting a muzzle.”

Today I will be outlining the benefits of the ‘Best Friend’s Deluxe Grazing Muzzle’ since it is the one I have used most extensively and is in my opinion, the most durable, safest & comfortable muzzle around at the moment…

Grazing Muzzle Benefits

Your horse is happier as a result of not being kept away from both his grass and his outdoor buddies.

Your horse can get the required exercise. (The average horse covers one mile per hour while grazing.)

The small opening in the bottom allows horses a limited amount of grass, yet unlimited water. Rather than being restricted to a non-grass environment to control intake, horses are free to exercise and socialize as part of the herd.

Disease prevention is easier and less expensive than a visit by the vet.

All synthetic materials make it lightweight, rot resistant and well-ventilated.

Padded noseband helps resist rubbing and chafing.

Most durable, comfortable and safest grazing muzzle available.

Recommended by John Lyon’s Perfect Horse magazine and The Horse Journal.

Reduces bedding bill and stall-cleaning time.

This particular model (the Deluxe) does not require the horse to wear a halter while wearing the muzzle.


Tips for Grazing Muzzle Usage

Introduce the muzzle to your horse slowly.

Put a treat such as a carrot in the muzzle. Do this several times before attaching the muzzle to the horse.

To encourage your horse to graze, throw a little grain in the grass.

Check regularly for any sign of rubbing. If necessary, use padding such as sheepskin, fleece or a Muzzle Mate™.

Horses cannot lick salt while muzzled, so give your horse some muzzle-free time.

Do NOT leave the muzzle on for longer than 6-8 hours at a time.  Use it only when your horse is turned out for grazing, and be sure to remove it when you bring your horse in at night etc.


Having the proper fit and adjustments will help avoid rubbing and will help prevent the muzzle from coming off.  The Best Friend Deluxe Grazing Muzzle has a roomy fit; it should not be tight or restricting and should allow room for grazing and chewing.  Normally your horse will wear the same size as its halter. 

Adjusting the muzzle:

Leave a small space (1/2 to one inch) between your horse’s mouth and the bottom of the muzzle to allow the grass to enter.  

Leave space for two to three fingers sideways between the grazing muzzle and the horse’s face. If you can easily fit your fist inside the muzzle is too big. 

In the summer, using a fly mask helps keep the muzzle on.  If your horse is difficult to fit or is a “Houdini” that seems to get out of everything, try using the Best Friend Standard Grazing Muzzle used with a separate, well-fitting breakaway halter. 

Adjust muzzle straps to fit like a well-fitting halter with the throat latch behind the horse’s jaw bone and the side rings in the crease of the neck.  Ideally the cheek pieces should be parallel to the cheek bones. 

The most common mistake is shortening the straps attached to the “bucket” instead of shortening the crown strap.  Start with all the straps fully extended and the adjust the crown strap first.  Unless your horse has a short head the other straps may need little, if any, shortening.  Quick check:  Stand in front of the horse, reach between the ears, and grasp the crown.  If you can pull the halter forward and off the head, it is not adjusted properly.


  • The muzzle is easy to clean and you can extend the life of your muzzle by cleaning it regularly. At least once a week simply brush off dirt and then hose off or swish in water. Let air dry.

Well folks, I do encourage you to give the grazing muzzle a chance, most of the time we are actaully the ones who can’t accept the muzzle, not or horses! So give a it a chance and you will be doing your horse a favour by allowing him to be a horse again instead of spending his life in confined dry lots.

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