Spring Greens for Horses
Horses just love their ‘Spring Greens’ – but too much grass is not such a good thing
It might have been hidden amongst the mud or amongst the old grass – but the new Spring grass is now coming through nicely. We all know how much horses love their ‘Spring greens’.
Take care that you do not miss these tiny shoots of grass – especially if you have a waterlogged or muddy field. Even fields with a good covering of old growth from last year, often hide those delicious newly sprouting shoots of grass. Unless you are aware, those tiny shoots of Spring grass could well cause problems for you and your horse. Go check it out. Get closer and really look at the ground to see how much grass is growing and covering the soil. How much of the new growth no longer has pointed leaves and is showing signs of being been nibbled.
You may not have been aware that the new grass was even there when it first started to produce new shoots. The problem however, is that your horse was very much aware! Quite often those new shoots are quickly nipped off by the horses before you even spot the new grass coming through. He might be simply nibbling little tiny blades of grass, so it doesn’t seem much of a change in the grazing regime to you , but that new grass is suddenly providing higher sugar levels in his system.
That new grass is high in energy levels. Now is the time to consider reducing the bucket feed – by ‘reduce’ we do not necessarily the amount in the bucket, but reduce the energy level. (introduce some lower energy level food). As the new grass starts to make a visible impact on the grazing, keep an eye out for behaviour changes. Adjust your bucket feed down a notch in energy levels till you get the energy level you want. The Lingfield Level 1 & 2 courses provides huge amounts of detail on feeding your horse.
A change in the grazing means a change in diet. This change is not of course one of your making, but a change in diet brought about by nature. Your horse will be eating more grass than previously – and that grass will be nutritious and full of energy giving qualities. As they consume more grass, some will reduce their hay intake. Whilst others simply keep eating whatever hay you provide – so be aware. Get yourself a weigh tape and to avoid laminitis symptoms measure your horse’s weight weekly from now on. symptoms.
- Check what your horse’s ideal weight should be
- If they are slightly heavier, reduce the hay now
- Use that weigh tape weekly
With the change in diet, keep an eye on the droppings throughout the Spring grazing period. Sooner or later, when the droppings change colour slightly and become greener and maybe softer, you will know that the grass intake is higher – but you need to be aware before that if possible.
The early high sugar level grass can affect the blood glucose levels which are related to insulin issues. Even if your horse has not had laminitis symptoms before it could have hidden EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) issues. It happens to even the most experienced horse owner.
Be aware and make some subtle changes to your horse’s food to avoid possible laminitis symptoms.
The Lingfield Equine Distance Learning Intermediate Diploma programme covers feeding and nutrition in some depth so is ideal for owners in charge of feeding their own horse.