As the owner of a horse that meets every criteria of being predisposed to metabolic conditions (read: is a round Morgan pony whose motto is ‘eat first, ask what is was later’), her grazing habits have always been diligently monitored.
My horse relishes her time outside and to be social, so to stick her in a dry lot or restrict her turnout seemed unfair; a grazing muzzle seemed our best option. Since introducing a grazing muzzle, we have run the gamut of problems.
First, she couldn’t figure out how to use it. She ran up and down the fence line, screaming her indignation.
I got a different style of basket grazing muzzle that attaches to an existing halter. I put it on her cute, paisley-ed breakaway and sent her out for the night. She came in the next morning, the halter destroyed in the mud, and she had athletically and mysteriously hopped on over to the other side of the fence. I suppose the grass really was greener on the other side.
So then we switched halters; I got the most ridiculous, neon pink and purple breakaway turnout halter (Or as I dubbed it, ‘The Halter of Shame’) and reattached the basket grazing muzzle. That seemed to work, for awhile anyways. She at least managed to keep this get-up on.
But halfway through the summer, it was apparent it wasn’t a perfect fit. She was rubbing her muzzle and her face where the halter laid. The rest of the summer was a balancing act of keeping the muzzle on her, sewing layers of polar fleece onto the halter, the muzzle, the tabs the muzzle attached to, and rubbing MTG and other products onto the bald spots she was wearing on her noggin. She started to get sores on the underside of her chin. After practically wrapping the entire thing in fleece, it seemed to be enough to keep the rubbing at bay. One thing that I could never seem to fix though was that she would come in after being in the field with the grazing muzzle on, and would sound like Darth Vadar. I was always worried that the grazing muzzle prevented her from breathing as freely as she needed, especially when it got hot.
Fast forward. Had to replace the grazing muzzle due to the hole in the bottom getting worn to the point that it hardly was reducing her intake. Purchased a new grazing muzzle, one with nice neoprene lining, assume it will work the same. Wrong. Open sores on her chin and spots rubbed bald within 72 hours of having the muzzle. Purchase a ThinLine muzzle liner (yes, they make them) and sheepskin. Find out that all the padding makes it *really* easy for The Mare to casually rub this grazing muzzle off. And the extra lining was helping retain moisture in the basket, causing her entire muzzle to chap.
At this point I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade.
At $130, the price tag on the Greenguard Grazing Muzzle is pretty off-putting, I will admit it. But in addition to, you know, working, it comes with a nice list of benefits.
First, you can purchase the muzzle directly from their website, or through their seller at Amazon or eBay. Whichever method you choose, they offer a 30-day money back trial. Their website is full of FAQs, testimonials, helpful instructions on how to size the muzzle for your horse, and articles about the product.
I decided to also buy the halter that Greenguard sells, so I would be sure to know that the muzzle would fit and I wouldn’t be trying to jerry-rig a $130 grazing muzzle to something. For the quality of the halter, it was not much more expensive than any other halter so I figured it was worth tacking it onto my order.
When it arrived, I will admit I was skeptical. The halter has a velcro breakaway (which I was convinced my horse would shred in about 2 seconds) and the muzzle looked like she’d be able to find her way through it in no time.
The day after my Greenguard package arrived, I received an email from a company representative, along with attachments to make sure I knew how to fit everything to my horse, and giving me additional contact information if I ran into any problems (I didn’t, but it’s nice to know they are following up with their customers).
I fit everything to The Mare per their instructions. The muzzle fits much larger than a traditional grazing muzzle, and only rests on the front of their nose. The halter is already padded in all the spots my horse was rubbing herself bald, and if she really tried to get the thing off, it has a detachable strap that can run down the front of the horse’s face. The basket of the muzzle is supposed to fit about a hand between the end of the horse’s muzzle and the basket, and rests parallel to their end of the muzzle. The straps that hold the muzzle onto the halter looked a little flimsy, and Greenguard does suggest wrapping them in duct tape or the like if you have a horse that is a master at getting their muzzles off, so I wrapped those suckers before The Mare had the chance to test that theory out.
They also suggest giving an adjustment period for the horse to get used to the Greenguard muzzle, as it works differently than most grazing muzzles. There are more openings, which allows slightly more intake than a normal grazing muzzle (but they still definitely have to work for it; it reminded me of how a slow feeder hay net works).
Sporting her new look, I took The Mare out to see if she could function in the muzzle, and unsurprisingly, she figured it out in about 2 seconds (they do note that some horses require more of an acclimating period). Reluctantly, I sent her out to her field in it and hoped that this pricey accessory would come back in one piece.
She has been using the Greenguard grazing muzzle for almost a month now, and I *think* it’s safe to say we have found our solution. The bald spots and sores have healed over; the padding on the halter does a great job. Because the basket of this muzzle is more plastic-y than nylon/material, and it is positioned so it really doesn’t cover her nostrils at all, she has not come in with chapped lips, and this muzzle allows her to freely breathe so I have not heard her Darth Vader impression since switching to this muzzle.
And despite some pretty serious rolling I have witnessed (along with face scratching and rubbing of various sorts), the velcro breakaway has remained sturdy. The Mare is able to get enough grass that she is content to graze – albeit slowly – rather than plotting to get the muzzle off or torment her fieldmates because she is frustrated.
Overall, I honestly wish I had sucked it up and purchased this sooner. Rather than several months of trial and error, treating weepy/goopy sores, and trying to get her hair to grow back on her face where she’d been chaffed; spending time and money of alteration after alteration to a grazing muzzle she could get off in 0.02 seconds and worrying about the potential consequences of her spending a full day on grass if she did get the muzzle off, I could’ve saved myself a lot of trouble.
In the long run, I don’t know that I’ve spent all that much more on the Greenguard muzzle than I have on all the adjustments and replacements I’ve purchased over the last few months.
Take home message: 10/10 would recommend. I would also recommend getting the halter if you’re going to take the leap with this product; this way you know that the attachment for the muzzle will work/fit onto the halter. The halter is well-made and the padding is an added bonus (no more sheepskin and duct tape for us!). The muzzle itself looks durable, although my horse isn’t overly destructive; I’m hoping there won’t be any replacements anytime soon (Although Greenguard does sell additional attachment straps separately if needed, and replacement breakaway straps).
If you’d like more information about the Greenguard Grazing Muzzle, where to buy, FAQs, articles and more, check out their website: https://www.greenguardequine.com/