The Countryside Museum
Farrier and Dentist :: Keeping Horses in Condition :: Laminitis :: Cattle and Sheep :: Foot and Mouth

Treating digestive illness

leather horse muzzle

If a horse got too fat, or was left to eat too much spring grass or was overfed by the horseman, it was liable to suffer digestive upsets which were far more severe than the discomforts that humans suffer.


A problem with over feeding was laminitis, which causes the sensitive parts of the horse's feet to become inflamed, and makes him very lame because his hooves cannot expand to ease the pressure.

There are many reasons why this may happen, but a common cure was to stop the horse eating the food that was apparently making him ill. This muzzle would do so very effectively.

It could be used for all sorts of other purposes, such as:

preventing a racehorse eating his bedding before a race (a full belly would constrict his breathing while running);

preventing a horse tearing his rugs if he got bored;

preventing a horse chewing woodwork, or "crib biting" (which was of course destructive of the stabling but was also considered a cause of further digestive upsets);

preventing a horse biting when he was being groomed.