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Hi there! It's finally spring here in New England and grass is finally growing! My mare is a bit skinny from the very cold, long winter and we have taken to grazing after our rides for up to around 30 minutes a day. Since she is a bit "ribby" from keeping herself warm all winter, I'd love to have her graze for even longer. However, the fear of founder keeps our sessions short.


She is not turned out on grass at all, her run-in is dry, but is there still a risk of founder from our grazing sessions on the new spring grass? The rest of her diet consists of grass hay, pelleted grain, and some supplements(MSM, Vitamin E, and Horseshoer's Secret), and we work 4-6 times a week. How much grass is too much?
 

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I think it depends on her history. Has she ever foundered, under any circumstances? Is she generally an easy or a hard keeper?


I think introducing grass in increments it best. I doubt that half an hour will ever be any problem.


I am in a slightly similar situation. My guy is fat, and now that our pastures are VERY lush, he is being held in solitary confinement on a dry paddock. Of course, it is inducing a sort of insanity on him, so I take him out daily; either for a ride, or just some grazing time. Either way, I try hard to make sure he gets at least a half hour of time on the fresh grass.



Not only does this provide needed nutrients from REAL, FRESH grass, it also keeps him 'used to' grass, enough so that when the grass is down enough so that he can be turned back out in the big pasture, he won't go from zero grass . . . . to all day grass. THAT could be disastrous!
 

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My horses eat/graze for 12 + hours a day and are fed hay and feed..
Build up slowly with grazing as the grass is new and to much to fast can give issues to any horse...but 30 minutes is a tidbit of treat to a horse... :cool:



If the horse is ribby, if she can eat alfalfa hay invest in a few bales and give her 1 - 2 thinner flakes or 1 thick flake every day

or

Give her 2 large handfuls alfalfa cubes dry in a water bucket...fill the bucket with water and let soak till soft...
Feed that to her everyday in addition to her regular rations...
She will put on weight and on top of that have a silky, luxurious soft & shiny coat...
:runninghorse2:....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think it depends on her history. Has she ever foundered, under any circumstances? Is she generally an easy or a hard keeper?


I think introducing grass in increments it best. I doubt that half an hour will ever be any problem.
She has never foundered before, but I whole heartedly agree on introducing it slowly :thumbsup: She's generally an easy keeper, but this past winter in New England has been just brutal!
 

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The thing(s) with grass are that it is often 'improved' cattle fattening, high sugar pasture, like rye grass etc, and that in spring & autumn especially(but also at other times, depending on weather, sunshine etc), it can be even richer than normal.

And horses in Western countries these days - like their owners - are often under exercised & overfed. Often chronically/eternally overweight, or at least 'in good condition', never getting regular 'hard seasons' to use up fat stores & 'reset' our metabolism & insulin sensitivity. Therefore, especially when on extra rich, sugary grass(or humans eating lots of carbs & sugars), we are a lot more sensitive to it & therefore we are then at risk of insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes.

**People get told to feed hay, not fresh grass, but while grasses lose nutrients when dead/processed, carbs/sugar is not one of them. The hay you feed may well be just as sweet as the grass you have, depending on the type, how it was grown, weather & when it was cut!

Nutrition does also play a part in insulin resistance, and magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for 'regulating' the metabolism(among other good effects) which is very often deficient in horse's diets.

So... I wouldn't generally worry at all about an hour here & there of rich grass, unless your horse is very 'prone'. Depends on the grass, whether she's likely to really gorge on it from having none, as to whether I'd leave her on it for long periods/full time. It's not so much about 'building up to it', but just how much she can stand. If your horse has had a 'hard season', that's a good thing for insulin sensitivity & will make it less likely for her to be so sensitive to the amount of sugars in the grass/hay, if it's rich. BUT if she is a generally 'easy keeper', she may have a bit of a built up resistance. And if she's getting grain(cereal grain is very high sugar/starch) I'd generally suggest to avoid that & feed something low carb instead.
 

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A horse will generally graze for 45 minutes and then start to browse. What she is getting is absolutely fine and will not cause any problems.

As for introducing grass gradually I think that is a fallacy that it will cause problems other than their stools being a bit loose. Steeplechasers are stables all winter and do not get grass but at the end of the season they are turned out in lush fields for their summer break, without any issues.
 

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^Yep, adding 'hard feed' of grain, which is hard to digest & high in sugar/starch, or oils, which the horse has to develop enzymes for in order to digest should indeed be done gradually, but grass is... hay only juicier. I think the story about introducing it gradually either comes from the people who know hard feed should be built up to & think everything should, or it's from fatty boombah 'founder prone' horses being over sensitive & owners have the idea that it is 'too much too soon', rather than the amount of sugars ingested chronically, before it gets to the 'final straw'.
 

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In 2 weeks my horse's will get turned out to pasture and never have had an issue. Pasture is native grass so even less rich then hay being fed. No slowly introducing it ,they will go out to pasture full time in 2 weeks.
 

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@loosie you must be in drought in Australia? Wish I could send the next 2 days of rain, were are in for. We do need rain other wise it will be not good, if it continues to stay dry.
 

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Yeah, we've had about 3 reasonable rains since last summer. Been feeding full time hay since spring! And now round bales - which I'm accustomed to paying $50 for are seriously hard to come by at $150! Getting a bit... stressed. & we're in Autumn, so not likely any growth until spring even if we get some good rain now...
 

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Our horses are on three acres right now, which they keep grazed down pretty well. Once we hay the pastures off, they will go to full-time lush pasture. Usually we start them out with about 2.5 - 3 hours a day for a week, then increase to 4 hours. Once they're out 4 hours a day for a week to ten days, they usually stop gorging and start browsing, and will eat more reasonably and come in to stand in the barn during the hot part of the day. Once that happens, we leave them out as they have 'self regulated'. Those first few days, though, even with some short grass available at all times, they stuff that good grass down as fast as they can.

Unless a horse has a metabolic issue or allergy, 30 minutes to an hour a day of grazing should not pose an issue.
 
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