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Moving from sand to pasture

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  • Moving from sand to pasture

    I've been keeping my guys on a sand lot for the last 8 months or so. It didn't make much difference as here in TX there wasn't any grass anywhere anyway. However, we've had so much rain recently that everyone (apart from us) has LOADS of pasture. I agreed with the farmer half a mile down the road, that I could turn the guys out there on his massive, unused pasture.

    So, conscious of a sudden change, founder, colic etc and because the pony is... well a pony!.... I have been walking them up, leaving them out on 50 acres for about 2 - 3 hours and then walking them back down again. I am totally amazed that I can just go to the gate, shout them and from specs in the distance they come cantering up (thank goodness. I had no idea how the heck I was going to catch them on 50 acres if they decided not to come).

    Does this sound like a reasonable rotation for now - 20 odd hours still on the sand lot, gradually reducing their hay and 2 - 3 hours in the grass, hopefully steadily increasing to 8 over the next couple of weeks?

    I am contemplating buying the pony a grazing muzzle just in case.

    Anything else I should consider?

  • #2
    I'm in TX too and dealing with the same thing. I'm interested to hear about how to do this. My grass is 2 foot high. I have a friend in the Thorndale area, and her 3 mares are already lame


    • #3
      I wouldn't have started with 2-3 hours, I would have started with 30 minutes.

      But, if the horses are ok, then leave then at 2-3 hours for a week or so, then add an hour every 2-3 days. Keep a close eye on hoof temp and manure consistency and back off the time if those things deteriorate.

      I'd muzzy the pony now
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • Original Poster

        We have diarrhea today. Hard to tell if it is grass related, although likely. He has also been having diarrhea because of suspected sand. Screwed either way!

        We have gone from diarrhea with sand (potentially) to black poops with change of hay to Bahia to now back to black diarrhea potentially with the sand again.

        It was all so simple before, they were just out on pasture 24 x 7 with no problems! Aaaarrggghh.

        JB - you are probably right about not putting them out for so long. The problem is that I have to walk 0.5 miles up the road with them to this pasture and then back again. I work full time so in reality taking an hour every day to walk them up, watch them and walk them back down again, just can't be done. Muzzle ordered.


        • #5
          You mentioned a grazing muzzle - I have one and it works well as long as the grass is mowed (doesn't work as well with really tall grass). Not a substitute for gradually phasing them onto grass but a good option for limiting caloric intake


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by geog272 View Post
            You mentioned a grazing muzzle - I have one and it works well as long as the grass is mowed (doesn't work as well with really tall grass). Not a substitute for gradually phasing them onto grass but a good option for limiting caloric intake
            Hmmm, I hadn't thought about that limitation of the muzzle, but it makes sense. Short grass will stick up and be accessible through the holes whereas longer grass will just lie flat. Ah well, pony should still be happy being out on 50 acres of green even if he can't actually eat any of it.


            • #7
              yep, if you're really restricted on how little time you can put them on there, the muzzles work great

              If you are able to work both ends of the day with getting them on grass, then you can more easily get them to a point where the time can meet in the middle. It's a pita while doing it because it would mean putting them out earlier each day, and leaving them out later each night, by by the time they are at, say, 3 hours on each end, then you could put them out last thing in the morning before work, and bring them in first thing after work, for 8-9 hours which *should* be ok if they've been at 6 hours total, without problems, for 4-5 days.

              At that point - out all day while at work - you can start putting them out an hour earlier, or bringing in an hour later, etc, and extend the time until they are literally out all day.

              Then once they're at 12 hours a day or so, for a good week, it's *usually* pretty safe to plop them out 24 hours. The muzzle for either the day, or the night, can help ease into that extra 12 hours if that's necessary.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • Original Poster

                fairtheewell, I am giving it a miss today. The horse's poops look like cow patties so maybe those couple of days were too much. I just walked out with halters and they were SO, SO happy, both of them stuck their heads right in - thinking they were going up to the pasture, but instead I took them over to a small, scrubby, vaguely green area, that we have on our own pasture. At least there, they go through the motions of having to pull small green things (mostly weeds) out of the ground, as opposed to standing, bored-stupid, in a sand lot.

                I'll see if poops firm up a bit and over the weekend, while at home, I can give them an hour each time instead of the longer 2-3 hours.


                • #9
                  My grass is 2 foot high...I taped off a really small area 40x40 right off my barn to turn them out on briefly and plan to give them 30 mins (I've been hand-grazing them for 15 mins, but I don't want to just stand there..lol. Anyway, I'm going to increase to an hour in about 3 days then 1 hour 2x per day for a week or so, and then I'll see how they go and just keep increasing it. I've had horses out on pasture full-time in the past, but I turned them out in July initially..then came the drought...It really is a PITA...So much pasture at my place, and I can't use it...then when the rains stop it will dry up...oy vey.