So, the grass has started growing again here and I'm not sure about how I'm going to "manage" Lacey during the growing season, so I figured I'd ask.
Basically, Lacey used to be (3 years ago) severely overweight and only barely missed actually foundering by a millimeter. As it is, she's doing really well now. She used to constantly have rings in her hooves from little laminitic episodes and now the very last rings are only an inch or so away from being completely gone from her hooves.
However, in the spring, once she gets on real, lush grass, she has a tendency to blow up like a balloon (at least at her last home). She probably puts on 100 pounds as soon as the grass really starts growing, even if she isn't being fed any extra. Last year, she went from being "backbone sticking up a little skinny" to "as wide as a battleship" in about a month, even on less than an acre with 7 other horses, and she was worked everyday.
So, basically, I'm concerned that since I've kept her at "a little less than battleship wide" all winter, that I'm headed for an issue once the grass starts growing since she's on 3 acres all by herself (with 2 llamas but they don't eat much at all).
I can divide her field into 2 smaller sections, one of 2 acres and one of 1 acre, but I'm not sure if that would help. I can also shut off access (with some difficulty) to both large fields and keep her in a small paddock sort of thing at night, but I'm not sure how much good that would do since she'd still be getting a lot during the day...
I've tried using a grazing muzzle on her but she got out of the one I had, however, not before she showed me that she was "unable" to eat or drink with it on.
So what would you do?
Once the grass really starts coming in and I see her weight coming up, I plan to first cut out the beet pulp she's getting (2 pounds before it's soaked), then start cutting out the alfalfa I'm feeding (10 pounds a day) so that she's only on about 7 pounds of grass hay and then as the grass comes in more, I plan on gradually cutting that out too.
I envision that that will probably take place gradually over Feb/March/April. By the middle of Feb. I think the beet pulp will need to be gone, then by the end of Feb. Probably most of the alfalfa will be gone and by the middle of April, I don't think I'll be feeding anything anymore...
Also, if it matters, this summer we'll be going to camp again, most likely, so she'll only be eating the grass until about June 12th, by which point she'll go to camp and eat different grass for a month/until it's gone and her paddock becomes a dry lot. Then she'll begin to get a timothy/grass mix for the rest of the summer, and then in late August, we'll move back home and she'll start back on this grass until it's all gone.
My overall thought is that once the grass starts coming in, I might confine her to the lower 1 acre pasture so that the upper pasture can stay really nice for next fall...Or do some sort of rotation, but what kind of rotation?
I know nothing, please teach me land management geniuses! :)