Friday, April 10, 2009

To Graze or Not To Graze

I had no choice. Siete must wear a grazing muzzle this year to avoid gaining weight and to avoid founder. I researched the options and consulted some of you about what you have used. It’s hard for me to even think about putting a muzzle on one of my horses, but ultimately, I know that it’s like limiting the amount of candy someone would give a child.

The grazing muzzle that I should have bought comes from England. It’s called a GreenGuard. By the time I paid for the muzzle and a special halter to attach it to that makes it more comfortable, and the shipping, it was going to cost over $150. Also, it would take time to get here to the States. So, being economical, I chose the Best Friend Deluxe Grazing Muzzle, which was about $55. It arrived quickly, but it looked huge and was much heavier than I expected it to be. Apparently, you’re supposed to be able to put two to three fingers between the horse’s face and the muzzle and leave an inch and a half between the horse’s mouth and the base of it. I think it’s a bit like putting a football helmet on your horse.

I decided to get Siete used to it by putting a few treats in it and letting her eat out of the muzzle for a couple of days. As I approached Siete in the paddock, she looked at me as if I had a small black monster in my hands. I changed course and offered the muzzle to Silk. Of course, she stuck her nose right into it and gobbled up the pieces of carrot. I attached the halter to Silk’s head, and she just accepted it and began nibbling grass through the hole in the base. Now, that’s why I love her, but she definitely isn’t the one who needs the muzzle.

For the last few days, I’ve tried repeatedly with Siete. I even put the muzzle in her food bucket with her dinner inside. No way! She’d rather starve to death than touch that evil thing! Meanwhile, the recent Spring rains are bringing up the grass nicely. If I want to be able to leave the gate open between the pasture and the barn, Siete must have her muzzle on most of the day. Plus, this muzzle only has one hole in the bottom, which makes it difficult to eat hay. I’ve got all the packing still sitting here while I wrestle with sending the muzzle back and buying the expensive English one instead. Time is a-wasting, and I’m wishing I had just ordered the GreenGuard because it would probably be arriving right about now.

I watched Siete run around, getting exercise in the pasture yesterday, and I made my decision. There’s no way that she could actually run and play with that huge black thing strapped around her face. So, today, I’m packing it up and shipping it back. I’ll order the GreenGuard, and appropriately, since it comes from England, learn the lesson: “Pennywise, pound foolish".


John and Regina Zdravich said...

I hope she does better with the English version. Divna used to be so skittish about everything -- it was even difficult to put a fly mask on her. Then a trainer came over one day to work with Zora, and I told him about Divna's problem. He put on her halter and lead rope, tied a plastic grocery bag to the end of a longe line crop. While holding the lead line, he brought the plastic bag towards her slowly. She jumped around, of course, but then calmed down and he proceeded to rub the plastic bag all over her head, shoulders, legs, etc., proceeding to new areas as she stopped jumping (I hope I am explaining this so you can understand). I repeated this exercise on my own a couple of times, and I swear it worked. She stopped being so afraid of everything that moved around her. Perhaps this technique would work if she has trouble with the new muzzle (??).

Pony Girl said...

Definitely take some pictures of the new one when you get it. I am curious to see this and how it works. I think it will be a good solution. They still allow horses to graze, just minimally, correct? Much better for her than being cooped up and watching her mama out in the green grass across the pasture from her! I think you are taking good precautions to help Siete stay well.

LJB said...

My mare wears a Best Friend muzzle when on pasture, sometimes I leave her out overnight so certainly up to 12 hours. She can run and nap and swat flies and drink from bucket or stream. I helped her figure it out by taking her out with muzzle to some lawn type grass -- short enough so it would stick up through the muzzle and tickle her, letting her know there was something there to nibble. It took awhile, she had a few questions about this, but once she figured it out, she would come up to me when I held it out because she knew it meant she could go out with the other horses and get some fresh green stuff. I've helped some other of our horses as well. They are all still alive after several years of this! :-) Good luck. Don't get discouraged!

Strawberry Lane said...

So glad Siete is out and about in the pasture. You are right, though, about keeping a close eye on her, since that dreadful laminitis.

Royal is still confined to the barn area and turnout. Because his larger turnout is at the top of the hill, he can't go up there until summer. That will be a happy day.

GREAT photo!!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I hope those new grazing muzzles arrive soon. We use the ones from England too, they work much better than the bigger heavier ones we used to use.
Have a lovely Easter day, I'm sure there must be some good chocolate with your name on it.