How to reduce risk of horse foundering - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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How to reduce risk of horse foundering

hey I am just wondering if anyone could guide me in how to move my horse from one place to a new one without foundering her. She has been at a boarding place since i got her she is 2 years and 3 months old and got her at 9 months. now come spring I want to take her out to my own pasture and graze her through the summer then bales in the winter. Now the place she's at she eats hay all year round with very little grass to graze in the summer if any at all. How do I maneuver her to different pasture and to grass after winter? Thanks so much, hope someone can help!

Last edited by jaydee; 09-21-2020 at 02:27 PM. Reason: Clarify title
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 02:20 PM
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It depends a little bit on where you live (e.g., what type of grasses you have) and your horse's health, breed (genetic predisposition towards metabolic issues), and workload, but the general guidance is to do a gradual introduction to pasture, very short pasture turnout (e.g., 30-60 minutes) the first few days, 1-2 hours the next few days, half a day the 2nd week, and increasing from there. This is a really good overview:

If you're worried about predisposition to metabolic issues that could lead to laminitis, turnout overnight and into the early morning is generally "safer" from a sugar content perspective, as long as the spring evenings haven't dipped below temps of 40*F/4*C. Again, that's a "general rule" but may not be how you want to proceed. If you want to do a little bit of reading about metabolically sensitive horses and grass, this is an excellent website:, starting with the article "Does this website apply to your horse?"

Also, don't overlook potential issues as pastures transition to fall grass. Again, particularly if you have a metabolically sensitive horse and live in a place where nighttime temps get below 40*F/4*C with warm, sunny daytimes, fall laminitis can be a huge issue as people are less attuned to its possibility.
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 02:20 PM
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Your title is misleading. It makes it sound like your horse is actively foundering now. Glad to hear that is not the case.

Anytime you move from hay to grass, esp spring grass, you do so gradually and slowly. Start with short turnout, half an hour to an hour per day for a few days, and see how she does. Increase by another hour or so per day. If her stool is semisolid then you can prob keep her at that time frame for another few days. But generally within a week or two max, mine are out on full turn out. But they do have grass that starts to grow after winter in their paddock and it allows them time to adjust.

You jsit need to allow time for the gut bacteria to catch up
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 03:41 PM
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Come grass season I pretty much just turn horses out to pasture.

Can't catch horses after only an hour or less on pasture. A good percentage of horse owners ,just turn horses out to pasture come grass season. Grass up here is native grass nothing special.

They get the cow plop manure but it only last 4 to 5 days. I just give them a probiotic every day ,when they come up to drink.

I just make sure they are full on hay before turning them out to grass. Never have had an issue.
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 04:48 PM
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In the spring I do a slow transition to grass. I usually fence off parts of the yard and turn them out for 30mins- 1 hour for a few days, then increase the time.

My geldings eventually transition to being basically full time on grass, however I do have a mare that would develop laminitis if I let her free-graze.

So throughout the entire grass-growing season she still has limited grass intake, and if she will be out longer than 30-60 mins I put a grazing muzzle on her.

I basically do this until the snow falls - the fall grasses are high in sugar so even if they are starting to die I won't leave her out full time.
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 06:04 PM
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I would start for an hour the first day and work up to 6 by the end of the week, 12 hours by the end of the second week and after that full time or stay half the day depending on if you will be stabling her or not.

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post #7 of 7 Old 09-21-2020, 11:09 PM
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Is she fat? Has she been fat chronically? Is the grass at your place especially rich? Is the hay she's been on tested low sugar?

People talk about 'introducing to grass' gradually. I think this probably comes from the idea that fructans in grass cause laminitis, which has been shown to be incorrect, &/or putting a horse(esp already fat/IR) on rich grass can cause laminitis. I don't believe it's got anything at all to do with how gradually you introduce it. The only good reason for gradual introduction is to not 'throw them in the deep end' but to see if the grass may be problematic/too much.

People (including many vets!) talk of needing to feed hay only to a 'founder prone' horse & never let them graze. This, at a base level is simply false, as grass doesn't tend to lose sugars in processing. Grasses use the sugars they produce only when actively growing. Therefore the hay you feed may well be just as rich, or richer than the pasture you're not letting your horse graze! So while it's absolutely important to remove your horse from rich/too much pasture if it's problematic, just changing to any old untested hay may not be any better.

So... depending on the health/condition of your horse and depending on how rich/much pasture you have, it could be problematic to give your horse 'free rein'. If she is in good health, not too heavy, I'd just put her on it & see how she goes. If it is particularly rich - 'improved' rye grass for eg - I'd be cautious about how much the horse were getting, regardless of how she is now. BUT same same for feeding rye grass hay for eg.
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