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Help, my horse is a Houdini!

Do you have a houdini horse on your hands? We have created a list of some tricks to foil even the most experienced escape artists. Just remember that each houdini horse is unique so what works for one may be different than what works for another. You may have to try one or more of these tips before finding the right combination for your horse. 

Tips for houdinis who escape out the corner of the muzzle

 

This houdini has pushed his nose out of the corner of the muzzle
  • Corner attachments: Use something like zip ties or baling twine to attach the muzzle to the halter in the corners (see photo below). 
  • Tape the straps: If you haven't done this already, wrap a piece of tape around each of the muzzle straps to keep them secure. This will stabilize the muzzle on the halter and make it more difficult for the horse to manipulate the muzzle. 
  • Shorten the attachment straps: The longer the attachment straps, the more space there is in the corner of the muzzle (and the more opportunity for escape!). You can reduce this opening while still keeping the same fit by taking the halter down a hole or two and then shortening the muzzle straps by the same amount. Word of caution - just make sure that the muzzle straps are not so short that they cause the halter to alter the shape of the muzzle at the points of attachment as this can cause the muzzle to warp. 
  • Greenguard halter: You may want to try switching to the Greenguard halter which has a special strap down the center that holds the noseband up when the muzzle is attached. Without this extra strap the halter noseband can droop or get pulled down, giving the houdini more of an opening for escape.

Before and After the Greenguard halter. The center strap keeps the horse from pushing out the corner.

 

    Corner attachments and the Greenguard halter center strap keep this houdini from getting out.

     

    Tips for houdinis who escape by halter removal

    A houdini showing off his escape artist skills
    • Mane trick: Take a piece of your horse's mane just behind the ears and braid a piece of twine or yarn into it. Then loop the braid around the halter crownpiece and tie it off so the piece of mane holds the crownpiece in place. 
    • Greenguard halter: If you aren't already using it, try the Greenguard halter which has an adjustable throatlatch so you can get it more snug than a traditional halter. Having the throatlatch snug makes it much harder for the horse to pull the halter off over the ears. 
    • Neck collar: Use a neck collar (sometimes called an ID collar or mare strap) or something similar (ex. cribbing strap) and place it around the horse's neck just behind the ears. Get it snug but not too tight (i.e. don't choke your horse!) - but snug enough that you can't pull it off over your horse's ears. Then attach your halter to the neck collar by looping the crownpiece through the neck collar. You can also use zip ties or twine to attach the halter to the neck collar.
    An example of a neck collar
    With all of these techniques, you will want to "test" how secure the halter is by trying to pull it off over the horse's ears. If you can pull it off, your houdini will probably be able get it off. It is better for you to test it first and re-adjust if necessary than to have your horse "test" it for you in the pasture.

      Help your houdini adjust to the muzzle

      Horses that have used a grazing muzzle before actually have to re-learn how to use the Greenguard muzzle because it functions differently. Whereas traditional muzzles have a hole in the middle, the Greenguard has slots on the sides. If houdini horses do not figure out how to use the Greenguard muzzle initially then they will be very motivated to remove it. You can help your horse along by introducing them slowly and showing them how to eat through the muzzle. See our article Best ways to introduce the Greenguard Grazing Muzzle to your horse for more information.
      The good news is that once horses figure out how the Greenguard muzzle works, most of them (even houdinis) will stop trying to remove the muzzle. Indeed this is very good news for those of you who have one of these savvy escape artists. And, as always, if you still are having issues with your houdini horse after trying these tricks, then please contact us at greenguardequine@gmail.com. We are happy to help you troubleshoot further. 


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