When (if ever) is pasture "safe" again after laminitis? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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When (if ever) is pasture "safe" again after laminitis?

My horse foundered in early April this year. He has been through it all - lameness, gel sole shoes, blew some abscesses, diet etc etc.

After his last x-rays, both the angles and the thickness of his soles looked a lot better. Also, I can't feel the pulse in his fetlocks any longer. His gait is still not 100% back to how it was before, but he seems to have steadied and hasn't had any obvious lameness in almost 2 months now.
He is still in his own paddock, which borders the pasture the other horses are in. He is on his own feed program (25lbs of hay and 2 lbs of ration per day), and has lost quite a bit of weight since he started his diet. Right now, I'd say he's at the bottom end of where I would like to see him weight-wise. Unfortunately, he has also lost a lot of muscle from not being worked and standing in a paddock for such a long time. I do hand walk him, up and down some hills too, but it's just not enough workout to build muscle.

I would like to re-integrate him into the herd for the winter, since he is obviously bored and lonely in his paddock. I am assuming that as soon as we have a closed snow cover, the sugars from grass should no longer be a problem, right? We don't have snow on the ground yet, but usually by Halloween we have the first dump.

The owners of the place where he is boarded are eager to let him back out, I think mostly cause they don't want to feed him seperately anymore when winter comes. They don't really seem to have a very good concept of what maintenance of a foundered horse actually means (I don't think they had any of theirs founder on them yet). Also because they will introduce another new horse into the herd and think it might be better for the two of them to enter the herd together, so they an hang out while the others are still figuring out the newbies.
I'm naturally more reluctant, cause I don't want to jeopardize the improvements we had over the last months by letting him graze careessly.

So... put him back in the herd now together with the other new horse? He WILL eat whatever grass he can find, I have tried that out by just hand-walking him in the pasture (the other horses are barely eating any grass anymore).I know that fall grass is supposed to be higher in sugars, but how bad is it really?
Or wait till we get snow?
Or is he doomed to be in his own space forever now?
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 12:33 AM
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What does your vet say about letting him graze this time of year?

An option might be a grazing muzzle but I would talk to your vet before you do anything. Once a horse founders, well, it can be a chronic maintenance issue.

The most incredible grass I ever saw was on the way to Calgary. A sea of golden waves where the only dark spots were the backs of cattle grazing in it. I will never forget the sight.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 12:37 AM
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Fall time is can be an issue for high sugars in the grass. As far as letting your horse back out on pasture it depends on what caused his laminitis to begin with.

My horse who had a bout with laminitis can't have any grass...even him eating grass under the fence causes issues. So his corral is hot wired to the max if he even atempts to snatch grass he gets shocked.

Once snow has buried the grass then it would be safe to put him out with herd.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 12:48 AM
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As mentioned it depends on the cause.
My horse has been having laminitis issues due to Cushing's. No bone rotation though but pretty severe otherwise. My vet said in the beginning that once he was sound he would be fine to go out with a grazing muzzle. The muzzle is a permanent thing and one I would do with any horse that has had, or is at risk for, laminitis. In my case we have been having relatively regular setbacks, and he has proven EXTREMELY sensitive to diet so even with the vets OK we have been paranoid and kept him in. Who knows for next year.
When you have the OK from the vet and his feet seem fine and you think he is ready I would put him out with a muzzle, maybe just for a little bit at first, and keep a close eye on his feet! I don't know how eaten down your pasture is but at this point I probably would just wait until winter, that is our plan.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 08:41 AM
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Ditto all the above but, there are so many variables with each horse that one has to evaluate everything everyone says, temper with a lot of common sense, then do something in the middle

I have one horse who foundered really bad in March, 2012. He never did go off grass but he does live in a grazing muzzle most of the year as I am in the Southeast U.S. where we don't see much winter.

Based on my own experience, which my vet was on board with, talk to your vet, put a muzzle on your horse until it's cold enough for him to see his breath, put a pair of trail boots with partial pads on him, and turn him out for 8 - 10 hours every day.

^^^^that is assuming you have ample acreage for him to forage across with his friends. My foundered horse has 21 acres of nothing but hills; he gets a lot more exercise, in an hour, than I could give him in a day.

I also have this horse on prescription herbs, which could be compared to the drug Thyro-L because his insulin is so difficult to control. The herbs are a crucial piece of this horse's formula for safe pasture grazing.

He eats tested grass hay and gets his vitamins/minerals from McCauley's M-10 Balancer which is oat/corn/soy-free.

Just one more piece of input to get your head in a tailspin. There is no black and white answer to your question; your horse's metabolism and how it reacts is the key. I have a second IR horse that has never worn a muzzle and never had a laminitic issue; he is controlled with nothing more than a strict diet. Go figure

Read and draw from how we all handle each of our foundered or laminitic horses, and find Plans "A", "B", & "C" from there.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 08:58 AM
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The EDIT button disappears after a short time, so I can't add this to my other post

I just got this in my e-mail and thought you might be interested.

Easyboot Transition EasyCare (Supplies Tack - Sports Medicine - Barefoot Boots)

I periodically (when the ground is hard) send my foundered horse to pasture in Easy Care's Boa Boots with partial pads in them.

If my Boa's ever wear out, I will ask them about these as it also says they are good for therapeutic use.

I have let my horse out on some serious pasture up to 11 hours daily. Easy Care does not recommend leaving boots on a pastured horse more than 12 hours.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 10:03 AM
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If your horses laminitis was related to sugars and an insulin problem then he's always going to be at risk of another attack if he's turned out 24/7 on anything but winter grass
It is possible to turn them out on a restricted grazing regime - either using a muzzle or only allowing them out for short periods on areas that are already grazed down - no lush grass - though its been shown that the risk can be higher on 'stressed grass' (grass that's continually growing because its kept short) than it is on 'old grass'
I'm able to turn my mare out for a good part of the day with no problems as long as I take her off and stable her for the rest of the time. She was pretty much a worst case scenario but has been free of laminitis for over 7 years now
Magnesium & Chromium (combined) supplements are supposed to help normal sugar uptake in horses that have developed IRS
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-24-2013, 10:38 AM
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First there is no completely simple answer, but the "simple" answer is yes, you're horse should be able to eat grass and graze.
Grazing is still the best diet for a horse. It's what their digestive system is designed for (hay and silage are still just grazing.... just basically "preserved" grazing).
The condition and even type of grazing will need to be taken into account. For example you mention Fall grass being higher in sugar. That's all about the stage of growth that the grass is in. Spring is often worse than Fall. Stressed grass can be a problem (e.g. after cold weather you can find grass that looks dead on top, but green lower down....it's stressed, or during a drought grass gets stressed). Because of the previous problems you might need to be selective about the hay. There's not a simple answer, but in general a healthy, well managed pasture should still be a good choice for feeding your horse.

Most horses if left over an area with diverse enough choices will eat a great many different things during the year. Mine even like eating the woody dead stocks of the beggar lice plants in late Fall and if you let them into an already harvested soybean field they'll try to pick the field clean of the stocks and empty hulls. Horses are naturally roaming grazers and what they eat naturally is based on the seasonal availability. We tend to mess that up with what we feed them and restrict them to (e.g. people love to feed horses grain which they aren't designed to process and we tend to like our horses a bit heavier than what's best and we keep them in stalls, etc, etc, etc,).
I do wish you the best. It can be tough once they become predisposed to laminitis and getting abscesses. Although I did know of one horse that they solved his abscess problem by adding something to his diet. Can't remember what it was (some mineral he was apparently deficient in).

They're always going to be bigger and stronger so you better always be smarter. (One of my grandfather's many pearls of wisdom)
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