I have a medium pony that I kept dry lotted half of the time last summer and fall, but now have him out full time. He wants to pork up, but I would love to leave him out with the other horse this spring and summer. I tried a muzzle on a horse several years ago, but he looked so miserable I gave up and just let him be fat. Yes, I am an enabler. Have you had success with keeping a muzzle on and how many hours do you leave it on for? Thanks.
I think the pathetic look is on purpose! In PA, we had a bunch with muzzles on and I think I spent more time playing find the flower pot from where they hid it than they did wearing the darn thing! The buggers were GOOD at getting them off and hiding them from me. Yes I'm sure that last part was totally demented pony humor
One of the ponies at the rescue came FAT (she's still fat, but not FAT). They tried to keep a muzzle on her, really. They tried putting it on normally. They tried tying it on. They tried things I don't even remember.
She got it off, every time.
That said, if you want him to be able to go out on grass, it's certainly worth a shot.
I use the one that attaches to a break-away halter. She has no problem with it. She wears it 365 days a year. As the seasons change she is in part of the day without it on to get a little bit of hay and then out the other part with it on. No grain but a hand full of hay. But she has mastered the hole .
It can take some time to find a setup that works, and granted, some are very talented at getting anything off (I know this after finding a blanket in the field, all chest, belly, and leg buckles still intact )
I've had better luck with the lighter-weight muzzles, such as the Weaver brand, than the heavier ones such as Best Friends. I think the heavier one just starts irritating their poll to the point they rub and shake and shimmy.
If I could find a lightweight muzzle-only to attach to my own halter, I think that would be even better. Even the BF muzzle-only is still HEAVY.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET
They work, but as others have said you need to stay one step ahead of the Houdini stuff. in my pony's case that means the full muzzle zip-tied to a very tight regular halter, padded to avoid rubs and strapped on TIGHT. The pony rolls and rolls and rolls and every now and then will escape. Maybe once a month. Enough so she keeps trying!
The halter is HOT PINK so I can find it when she does escape.
Yes, she pouted, but soon realized that it was the only way she was ever going out on grass, and willingly puts her nose in each morning.
It needs replacing every couple of years because it just gets funky (although it can go in the dishwasher) and because the hole gradually gets larger from constant nibbling through it.
I have no way of knowing this for sure, but in my crude observation I'd say it cuts grass intake by 80%.
The 12 yr old went three solid weeks without eating thru the muzzle.
It's a good thing I only work part time and was able to re-arrange my schedule to be home, as I had to go get his fat hind end (at the farthest end of 14 acres during the hottest blasted part of last summer), and bring him up to the barn so he could eat hay and salt and drink water. I did not walk after him either - I ponied him off the 4-wheeler.
Finally after the third week, he started to eat grass and I did pull about 75# off him before winter got here.
I ended up also muzzling my 23 yr old - he pouted one day and it was over. The 23 yr old didn't lose weight thank goodness, but his neck was a lot softer because he wasn't eating as much grass. The IR causes this horse to lose weight which was why I put off making him wear a muzzle for so long.
They wear their muzzles from morning turnout until around 7:00 PM every day, then come in for the night with hay that I have weighed out on the barn scale.
Just as soon as you see your horse lame on four hooves because it has "sub-clinical laminitis" due to an insulin reading of around 100, you will choke back the tears, put the muzzle on and not feel near as sorry for the horse because you literally are fighting to save its life.
It is tough love, but if you care anything at all about the horse, muzzle it at least during the day and bring it in at night for break from the muzzle.
Have the hay tested too
Edited to add: I also use the Weaver muzzles (they're at TSC). They don't have the break-away like Best Friend muzzles but the Weavers are much lighter in weight and money. I pay $32 for a Weaver and a Best Friend was $50.
An $18 savings is a lot on one muzzle; I have two horses that have to wear them and maybe a third this coming year.
I have the best friend's grazing muzzle. My pony hates it but as the vet says it beats laminitis. He keeps it on and got used to it after a day or so. He only wears it in the summer nd only when he starts to gain too much weight. I leave it on 24 hours then off for 24-48 hours. I also have the option of a dry lot and a stall, but have found for him this is the best solution. he is able to be out 24/7, can be with his buddies and still gets to graze- even if it is through a hole.
I use the Best Friends muzzle, for the 12 hours a day my horse is turned out. She gets a break from it from Dec to April, when snow and ice cover the whole place, then its back on again. She does manage to eat through it, and she can even get hay through it, which I think is a feat of dexterity on her part. She ruffles the hay until some of it is pointing straight up, then jams the hole in the muzzle over the hay, and pulls it in. She's IR, but not overweight, so I'm mainly concerned with decreasing her grass intake in the grassy season. It works very well. If she still had laminitis issues with the muzzle, I would dry lot her, but this seems to work for her. There's no real way to quantify how much grass she's getting, but I know its much less than she'd get unmuzzled.
I tried an Easy Breathe muzzle, and I really liked how light it was. The basket was too small for her (regular horse sized) face though, so I switched back to BF. I think if you had a horse with a fine muzzle like an arab or something, the easy breathe would be great.
In the spring, she does turn her nose away pitifully when you bring the muzzle up to put it on, but after a couple weeks, she thrusts her face into it just like her halter. I really don't think she's 'miserable' muzzled. She still grazes, still chases the other horses out of the hay, and still drinks. She rolls, bucks, and gallops with it on just the same as before. I'm just happy she has four good hooves on her!
My pony looks a lot less miserable in his muzzle out in the middle of a grass field than he does stuck in his dry lot all day as an alternative.
I can allow my prone-to-porky (really, is there any other kind of pony???) small pony to live out in a big grass field with the herd 18 hours a day in his muzzle. I put him in a dry lot at night and he goes muzzle-free. The difference between having him in the muzzle (which he still eats through) and not is profound. It's the difference between a getting-ready-to-founder-fatty and a "normal" looking riding pony.
am I the only one whose ponies still get fat with a muzzle on for 12 hours? I can only let them 4-6 hours on pasture with a muzzle because they can eat too efficiently even through the tiny hole (Best Friend Muzzle). The first year I did twelve hours in the muzzle and had a porker.
The Best Friend with the basket that attaches to the halter works best for me. They can get the full one off too quickly. I've tried both the BF & Weavers, and prefer BF - it takes twice as long to get that hole larger (1-1/2 - 2 seasons if I'm lucky). Once the hole starts getting larger, that's it - not effective and needs to be tossed.
I keep it on them whenever they're out on pasture - no exceptions - from first of March to first of Dec.