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Careful with that Grass

The beginning of March signals the first signs of spring in many parts of the country, and with it, the pastures are beginning to go green.

Horses that are unused to grass will have to be introduced to it slowly, or they could be at risk for laminitis. Veterinarians aren't sure what exactly happens in the equine body to cause laminitis, but they do know how to prevent-or at least increase the chances of preventing-the disease.

Horses that are in regular work generally don't come down with laminitis, so one good rule of thumb is to keep your horse active, all year. Horses that are in good weight, have healthy diets and regular turnout are not generally at risk.

Nonetheless, introduce you horse slowly to spring pastures. Begin with 20-30 minutes a day of hand grazing for a week, then gradually increase the amount of time on pasture each week until you're up to an hour or more. Keep an eye on your horses for weight gain.

Some horses will be fine on spring pastures. Others will need closer management. It all depends on the individual horse and how he's been managed, as well as his body type. Ponies and overweight horses will be more susceptible to founder.

If you have any concerns at all, check with your veterinarian.

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