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We Are Flying Solo

April 29, 2019

A Muzzle Saved My Relationship

Hmmm, that title could be true for so many scenarios, however, in this case, I am referring to a certain Baby Monster.  Who is basically a mouth with legs.

Echo has learned that human parts do not go in his mouth.  He even abides by the rule, with occasional exceptions when life is just too exciting to process without MOUTH ON ALL THE THINGS.  However, one loooong exception has become nearly insufferable:  trail rides.

I am currently ponying Echo out on trails while riding Solo.  Echo, at just-turned-5, still funnels all his curiosity & energy through his mouth.  Which translates to nipping Solo's neck, nipping Solo's rein, nipping Solo's bridle, nipping Solo's shoulder...every 2 minutes.  It's maddening for all of us. 

I have tried all manner of scolding, cursing, rope-halter-snapping, with the end result of discovering that Echo can react faster than I can possibly hope to move while attempting to smack his naughty nose.  I can see that he knows he's not supposed to do it, he jerks back so quickly he's scolding himself, but 90 seconds later, he does it again.
But mom, he's RIGHT BY MY NOSE!
It's an energy outlet for him.  He is walking next to a horse who is slower than him & while he politely matches the pace, he has all this life & inquisitiveness fair to bursting out & it finds a channel at the end of his adorable but infuriating face.  He alternates with sucking on & playing with his tongue, but apparently that is not sufficient.

A couple weeks ago, I got fed up with spending the ride scolding my horse & tired of rope-bruised hands beneath my gloves.  And I bought a muzzle:  Tough 1 Easy Breathe attachment.

I wasn't sure how it would go over.  I recently tried a fly mask with an extended nose on Echo - he decided it was trying to suffocate him & frantically rubbed his face on the ground until I removed it.  But I picked one with special big nostril holes & strapped it on just before we headed out.

Meet Horse-ibal Lecter: he's not enthused.
There was an initial period where he attempted to rub his face on things to get it off, but without the panicked edge of the fly mask.  And then...

We had a lovely, calm ride.  He walked & trotted nice as you please beside Solo with his face completely relaxed.  He could still take a big drink at his favourite water crossing.  He kept snorting occasionally, as if to reassure himself I wasn't trying to smother him again, but his conclusion seemed favourable.

His whole body was more relaxed & I think removing that nip-avoid-punishment cycle allowed him to find that place on his own in a way that we couldn't before.  Instead of having to resist the temptation to bait Solo into Nip-Tag, the option was never even on the table in the first place.  It's much easier for me to direct his choice towards "chillax" when there's fewer choices to begin with.
But...this face must be EVERYwhere...
The muzzle itself feels nice & sturdy & has a pretty big hole in the bottom, I quite like the design.  I added the extra velcro straps thanks to reviewer tips & they helped keep it in place.  I really really like the big nostril holes!

I'm dealing with some big problems right now (not horse-related), but this was one I was able to solve.  Not only was I happier, Echo was happier, & Solo was definitely happier.  Win win win.  I know Echo will grow out of the mouthy phase someday (omg, please let it be so), but until then, the muzzle is painless, easy to use, & at $20, doesn't break the bank.

How about you? How have you dealt with your mouthy babies mouthing the world?


  1. He looks so pitiful! But how clever on your part!

  2. Ah, the joys of the "all things go in mouf" phase. Mostly I have been dealing with that by ponying from Taran, who will absolutely kick Leo if he gets out of line (you should see the Reluctant Trudge Face Leo puts on after he's been told off). In the barn, I've been clicker training "stand still and square, facing forward" as the default behavior. Alternate behavior gets ignored (yes, even pawing, because I know he's doing it because he wants attention) unless it's really rude, in which case I'll just push his face away. So far it's been working well but jeez I swear, standing for JUST FIVE SECONDS can be SO HARD.

    1. Solo will kick out if Echo bites his butt, but I make Echo walk next to my leg (mostly because I don't enjoy the bumpy ride of Solo scolding, lol) & since Solo used to be a track pony, he has no reaction to annoying neck biting.

      I do need to do some more work with Echo on the standing still in his own space -- I don't clicker train him bc he is way too smart & will be one of those who uses it for his own ends, but he will work for other kinds of rewards. He also paws, just lightly, maybe 2-5 times & I have been trying hard to ignore it for the reason you mentioned bc he's on mats & it isn't persistent. But yes, standing still is TORTURE bc OMG WORLD SO MANY THINGS TO LOOK AT & THINK ABOUT & INVESTIGATE!

  3. Replies
    1. I am glad to report I tried it a second time last weekend & he did not seem to resent me -- put it on with no problems & still worked great!