1 question, 3 experts: “What is the point of a brake scuff?”

More and more horses come to the ring with a “basket” so that they eat less grass. A controversial solution – even among experts.

Here’s what a behavioral researcher says about the eating brake for horses

In general, insufficient feeding times lead to frustration in horses. A horse’s normal feeding behavior is to graze with its nose on the ground and to move slowly. Everything else is a well-thought-out compromise.


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One question, three experts
“What do you think of brake scuffing?”

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When it comes to weight loss, this can be easily managed in the barn by reducing the calorie content and adding hay to the hay, for example. If eating horse food is made more difficult by horse fly, some horses, like humans, react with bad moods or aggressive behavior. Feed also helps horses reduce stress.


The most natural for horses is hay with fame. But of course you have to differentiate here. If a Haflinger inhales his food, there is a risk of health problems such as laminitis. In any case, it is better to leave horses that need to restrict their feed intake with grazing brakes rather than isolate them. If they wear brake scuffs, they should be worn regularly and fed bran in the right amount and low in sugar content.


To my knowledge, no study has confirmed that horses with horse flies are restricted in their facial expressions. However, social behavior is limited. Horses can no longer bite to defend themselves. The risk of injury from kicks increases. Higher-ranked animals are likely to have trouble defending their position in the herd.


brake scuff

Lisa Radlin

Mr. Dr. Konstanz Krueger, expert in horse breeding at the Baden-Württemberg University of Economics and the Environment in Nürtingen-Jesslingen (HFWU)

Mr. Dr. Konstanz Kruegerexpert in horse breeding at the Baden-Württemberg University of Economics and Environment in Nürtingen-Geislingen (HFWU)


Here’s what the nutritionist says about the friction brakes

In my practical experience, friction brakes are not the only means of choice, but merely an addition or compromise. In any case, the first option would be to ensure adequate exercise and improved nutrition and housing. A possible alternative to grazing would be to maintain a sand field throughout the day.


Grazing for hours is meaningless for all horses. You should definitely think about this. If a horse has to lose weight, then 2-3 hours is quite possible – if this is combined with adapted breeding and feeding with a reduced amount of hay or hay. Friction brakes are definitely just a supplement. Placing a horse in the pasture with a grazing horse and not reducing the amount of forage in the stable will not be fair or effective.


However, a number of horses have adapted their feeding behavior to shorter grazing times and then eat without stopping. Important if there is no replacement for the friction brake: the fit must be correct. In other words, it should match the shape of the head and the behavior of the horse. However, horse owners should also critically ask themselves if a horse is really “dramatic” if it doesn’t go out into the pasture. It is often the conscience of a bad horse owner who would like to see his horse a “poet” in the meadow. It is less stressful for a number of horses if they have no grazing at all and are standing with a firm group on the sand field than if they are only allowed to graze temporarily.


brake scuff

Lisa Radlin

Dr. Anne Mosler, a veterinarian specializing in animal nutrition and dietetics in Burgdorf, Lower Saxony

Dr. Anne Museliera veterinarian specializing in animal nutrition and dietetics in Burgdorf, Lower Saxony


This is what the equine dentist says

You see this a lot in horses that regularly eat with a sprayer Grinding marks on the maxillary central incisors. However, they only affect the upper layer of the tooth and therefore do not affect the health of the tooth. I have never had any misalignment of the cutters as a result of the friction brakes.


I am not aware of any studies to what extent the normal chewing process can be restricted by brake scuffs. In my practical work, I did not notice any incorrect erosion of the molars. The prerequisite, of course, is that the friction brake is attached far enough away that the horse can easily open its mouth. In my opinion, horses can wear a horse fly for several hours a day. Provided that potential friction points are checked upon removal and wear.


In horses who suffer from EOTRH (equine dental hypersalivation is an extremely painful and incurable disease of the horse’s teeth) and still have incisors, it is important to consider whether the gallbladder will cause additional pain to the horse. Unfortunately, I don’t know if horses without incisors can handle the feed brakes. You will have to try it and check your gums daily for infections at first.

brake scuff

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Dr. Joanna Castell, an equine veterinarian in Stadtberg and a member of the IGFP

Dr. Joanna Castellan equine dental veterinarian in Stadtberg and a member of the IGFP




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