When picturing horses on a fresh green meadow, it seems like the most natural place for them to roam and enjoy grazing. However, for horse owners and carers, you should think twice about unleashing your ponies onto luscious pastures.
Pastures are natural for horses, that is true. However, they can cause your horse enormous problems if you introduce them to this kind of grass incorrectly. If your beloved animal has been grazing on sparse pasture or hay and suddenly switches to lush paddocks, it can become very ill.
Laminitis and colic are some illnesses that your horse could face, along with the risk of obesity and diabetes. These illnesses can crop up if you transition the animal to rich grassy land too quickly.
Ponies and horses differ, just as human adults and babies do. See below for the best horse care tips for each and introducing your animal appropriately for its age.
If you're reading this, there's a chance your pony has potentially never seen fresh pasture before, especially if born in the autumn and winter months. Providing adequate horse care means monitoring your pony closely when moving it onto pasture.
Modern ponies generally are a lot more sedentary than their wild ancestors, making their food consumption on certain grasses more an issue than previously. With lots of grazing and less activity, weight gain can happen quickly. Ponies can gain weight incredibly easily, and it doesn't set a good foundation for the rest of their life.
Some risks include heart disease and obesity from incorrectly introducing ponies to pasture. Also, laminitis is a problem you want to avoid. Laminitis is quite common in ponies, with one of the causes being abrupt changes in diet. Laminitis can be a chronic health condition and is why you must be vigilant of your horse grazing.
You shouldn't be letting your pony out on fresh pastures for extended periods, and definitely not for entire days.
You must be strategic with your animal's feeding routine, especially when introducing it to large areas of fresh grass. Horses are also susceptible to metabolic syndromes and laminitis, so don't be blasé about your steed spending its time on fresh grasses.
Health problems can happen instantly if your horse feed changes, so follow a routine to ensure it stays healthy. You could start with half an hour to an hour or so each day. Slowly increase the time until you can leave the horse outside all day.
It's best if you line your animal's stomach with hay before letting it outside. You may think this is a bad idea in terms of overfeeding. However, it's worse for them to eat fresh pasture on an empty stomach. It can potentially cause equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS).
It's not likely that you will have your horse grazing on pastures all year round. Whether due to climate or the availability of fresh grass, you'll have to switch it to other types of horse feed. The transition from one kind of grazing to another is not an incredibly easy one, but it can be worth it.
If you're considering whether to make the change, read through some benefits.
When introducing your horses to pasture, you must know how to manage this grassland sufficiently for optimum results. The introduction, or reintroduction, of horses to fresh grass often comes after winter when spring starts to bloom.
Letting your animals graze also means accepting a form of wear and tear to the earth. It will need maintenance. Before you ween your ponies and horses onto lush pastures, here are some things to bear in mind:
It's incredibly important when introducing your horse to paddocks and throughout their time on the fields that you are aware of the troubles lush grasses such as tall Fescue may cause your animals.
Tall Fescue grows in abundance in the U.S, usually found in hayfields and pastures. This plant has a vibrant green appearance and thick, rich texture. Understandably, it is a popular choice for those aiming for a healthy-looking field.
The issue with this kind of plant is to do with an organism called endophyte, which lives within it. Endophyte can promote plant growth and help defend Tall Fescue from pests. However, when infected, it is toxic to horses. In terms of proper horse care, you must be extremely careful when allowing horse grazing on pasture.
Toxic endophyte fungus is dangerous to all horses. However, pregnant mares can be the most vulnerable. If pregnant mares graze on this kind of infected grass, they can develop thickened placentas. This thickening can cause the death of their foals. Around 60-90 days before giving birth, you should keep a mare away from this kind of grass and be careful about altering her diet.
Ultimately, it is only you and your fellow horse caregivers who can make this decision. If you are struggling to make this decision, consider some of these Dos and Don'ts of weening your animal onto lush grass:
If you're reading this article, you probably do practice horse care properly. You likely understand how potentially dangerous something so seemingly harmless can be. Having read this thoroughly, you should be more clued-up on the benefits and the downsides to introducing your horse to pasture.
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