Muzzle matters

Redwings Welfare Vet Roxane Kirton explains when to use grazing muzzles

For my first blog on the new Redwings website, I’m proud to announce the release of some brand new guidance that Redwings has contributed to on the use of grazing muzzles.

A grazing muzzle is a piece of equipment used to reduce the amount of grass a horse can graze when turned out in a paddock. They are widely available on the market for weight management, and to prevent weight gain and the risk of serious health issues related to obesity.

However, they are a particularly controversial bit of kit. As well as looking severe or even cruel, there are welfare risks associated with their incorrect use.

Unfortunately, until now, there has been very little independent advice to guide horse owners in grazing muzzle usage. People have had to rely on manufacturer’s or retailer’s advice, online horse communities and the individual experiences of other horse owners.

This new guidance therefore aims to fill this gap, as well as fulfilling two key objectives: firstly, to help owners who may consider using a muzzle on their overweight pony, but who have been tentative about them in the past, and secondly to stop and prevent unsafe use in situations where they’re not in the best interest of the horse’s welfare.

In preparation for this guidance, we asked our social media community for their opinions on grazing muzzles and their effectiveness. You didn’t disappoint and more than 50 comments revealed a vast range of both positive and negative experiences that further justified the need for the guidance. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

As members of the National Equine Welfare Council we collaborated with Blue Cross, the British Horse Society and HorseWorld to produce this peer-reviewed guidance enlisting the views and expertise of three leading academics on the issue of equine obesity prevention, as well as the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). I’m particularly pleased to have been part of the production of NEWC Grazing Muzzle Guidance as it’s the first of its kind from the national coalition.

But don’t let me tell you, watch Redwings Senior Welfare Vet Roxane Kirton explain when to consider the use of grazing muzzles and how to introduce, fit and monitor them on a horse here.

Or, for the studious bunch of you out there, you can read the guidance document and refer to the checklist for leaving your horse with a muzzle on, especially after first introducing and fitting it.

For more information on weight management and healthy weight loss see our latest advice and guidance in our first Field Notes advice and guidance publication “Lightening the load”.

Please get in touch with any questions by emailing me or join the conversation via our social media channels. Follow me on Twitter @RedwingsAndie

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