It’s so nice to see our horses out grazing after years of drought.
That is until you look out the window and notice them walking uncomfortably like they are treading on hot coals or standing in the one spot constantly shifting legs to share their body weight and find a comfortable position.
As the days get warmer and the nights stay cool we are fully aware that spring has sprung which creates the perfect conditions to turn your paddock into a lolly shop for horses.
Spring grass is high in sugars and starch so it’s time to get the grazing muzzle on and limit the amount of time your horse spends munching away in the paddock. We can limit the Intake of sugars and starch from grass by only allowing grazing to occur first thing of a morning and as the grass dries out later in the day it’s time to move them away from the paddock as this is when it is higher in sugar and starch.
Feeding a low sugar and starch diet and offering your horse products that have a low ESC (Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates) such as Teff Hay or Maxisoy enable your horse to still have a healthy diet that that will also keep your horses digestive system functioning, starving your horse is not the way to prevent or recover from laminitis.
Most of us have had it happen or have at least seen it before, you walk into the paddock and see the signs. Yep that gut wrenching feeling that you should have started preventative treatment or diet yesterday...
Get your horse to some soft sand or bedding or even pad your horses feet with a supportive but slightly forgiving padding material to encourage your horse to still move if it’s able to.
Then, straight onto a low ESC diet (below 10%) and if your horse is in pain you may have to call your vet.
It’s a great idea to ask what your Teff ESC levels have been tested at, of course due to variants in weather, location and water the ESC levels can vary.
Once your horse has recovered it’s all about finding a happy medium, yes horses need grass as it helps maintain a functioning digestive system therefore aiding to prevent issues such as colic and ulcers but it’s a matter of obtaining a balance between feed and work and yes every horse is different. Precaution is the key, as they say you need to watch them like a hawk!
If your lucky enough to own more than one horse then keeping your horses in a herd situation will help them maintain movement which is key to preventing laminitis. Using slow feeder hay nets around the paddock or stable will help you measure and maintain the amount of hay you are feeding while slowing the consumption rate down so your horse is not gobbling it down at record speed.
Remember that horses should work for their tucker and don’t kill them with kindness when it comes to feeding. Quality over quantity and movement is the key to making sure you don’t have to watch your horse go through the pain of laminitis.
We all want to use our pasture this year but put a plan into action to make sure the sound horse you put in the paddock is just as sound when you get it out of the paddock.
Please remember – the above is not intended nor should it replace veterinary advice. If you are unsure contact your trusted veterinarian.