Yes, it’s a bit late but that grass boosting combo of rain and sunshine has put the spring into our pasture so don’t be surprised if your horse is getting a sugar hit that will make him or her a bit of a handful. It’s also thought that spring grass contains a high level of potassium which reduces the horse’s uptake of magnesium resulting in another reason why our equine friends can range from excitable to explosive!
As well as helping with our horse’s mood, magnesium is also important for muscle function and it’s thought it can benefit horses prone to obesity and laminitis. If you think that magnesium could benefit your horse, always choose a supplement that contains ‘chelated’ magnesium.
Because of the change of management many horses experience at this time of year as they’re turned out after a winter of limited access to grass, it’s also worth putting them on a pre and probiotic to promote a healthy level of that all important gut bacteria. (Hyperlink to gut biome post) This will also help horses that are regularly turned out cope with the seasonal change in the grass too.
We’d love to know if you’ve found the perfect way to take the stress out of spring grass!
There's been a lot of talk on health programmes about the human gut 'microbiome' and how an imbalance can adversely affect the immune system, sleep, anxiety, and weight, . In fact some claim that it's an even bigger influence on our health than our genes. For a long time many 'alternative' practitioners have been telling us that the basis of all health begins in the gut but now, at last, the health industry at large is putting a lot of research into this area and discovering connections to different ailments all the time. For instance, last year scientists made a link between gut health and brain health. So, why shouldn't it be exactly the same for our equine friends?
Fortunately, many vets and owners are more aware of ulcers and how easily, through stress or diet, horses are prone to getting them. This has been a really positive move forward for horse welfare, but now it's time for the gastrointestinal microbiome to become the hot topic in equine health.
Forward thinking vets and scientists are claiming that research into the gastrointestinal microbiome could be a real game-changer. An imbalance in horses has been linked to colic, laminitis, obesity, metabolic problems, Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) and behavioural problems but scientists think that there is still more to be discovered.
To prevent and treat disease and improve mental and physical wellbeing for both horses and humans means a two-pronged approach. Firstly, research is being done on manipulating pre and probiotics to improve the gut microbiome. Secondly, they are looking at what causes an imbalance in the first place. For horses, this means looking into horse management, such as feeding, grazing and particularly stress, which is known to upset the balance of the microbiome. Also, research has been carried out into the affect of intense exercise on the equine intestinal microbiome.
Be on your guard if you're putting your horse or pony out on grass that has been covered in snow, especially if they are prone to laminitis or other sugar related problems, as snow and ice cause sugars to build up in grass in the same way it does with frost. And don't think just because the snow has melted that you are ok because any night temperatures below 5° will keep the grass in high sugar mode.
Similarly, with frosty mornings, it's not simply ok to wait for the frost to melt before you put your horse out; to be safe the night time temperature needs to have risen to 5° because this is when the grass accumulates sugars.
Introducing Dressage Hafl - a Haflinger (Hafl), an adult amateur (Tanja), a mission: riding up the levels in dressage. A blog on all our dreams, our plans, our struggles, our ups and downs mixed with a lot of fun, product reviews, show reports and (mental) training posts. If you can dream it, you can do it!
With a pretty early spring this year and extraordinary mild temperatures, it was just a matter of a little bit of rain for the fields to grow stunning fresh and green grass. Since then, Hafl is longing for every tiny blade of grass he can grab. As the new grass contains a lot of sugar, I need to make sure that he only gets little of it at a time - not only to prevent him grow an even bigger belly but also to prevent him from severe diseases like laminitis. To get him used to it, I started hand grazing him with the first show of this season and now, he can go out in the fields for 15-20 minutes already.
Not only it is important to get your horse slowly used to the fields of dreams, you also need to make sure that there are no poisonous plants around. My barn owner is very diligent when it comes to grassland maintenance, so I do not have to worry. Otherwise, I would need to look up plants that are not good for Hafl, just like Learn Equestrian has put together a great infographic on poisonous plants:
Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog