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Maintaing pasture/laminitis risk

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  • Maintaing pasture/laminitis risk

    My daughter's horse had a mild case of laminitis last year. It occurred after he got out of the pasture in late summer and grazed for several hours on the shortly mowed lawn during a rainstorm. This horse had previously been pasture kept for several years by his previous owners with zero problems. He had been in our pasture for about 3 months when this happened. My vet at the time pointed to the mowed grass as the mostly likely cause. x-rays were clean and he recovered quickly with no ill effects.

    Our set up is a large paddock (about an acre and a half - 2 acres) with a gate leading to a medium size pasture (3 acres or a little more). He's been in the pasture since his recovery under close watch, graduated from his grazing muzzle, no further incidents.

    He is being switched to Purina Wellsolve feed. I have been to safergrass.org.

    So now the pasture is nice and overgrown and needs to be mowed, but I'm afraid to b/c of what the vet previously said.

    I was thinking I would lock them in the paddock and let them graze/stomp it down, and in the meantime mow the pasture. By the time the pasture grows back to about 8 inches, rotate them. Then repeat as necessary. Does this sound safe and reasonable?

  • #2
    The first founder on my farm was the year I fertilized and allowed the grass to grow taller because taller grass was supposed to be safer.

    Others will disagree but I have found short grass to work better when mine do get any grass...I know studies show the sugar is higher but the amount of grass they get is lower and they have to work harder at it.

    Mine live on a couple of acre 'dry lot' that is partially covered in 'astroturf' and have no issues.

    Just sharing a different experience.


    • #3
      One thing to remember, your lawn grass is much different than pasture grass...so if it *really* was the hours on your lawn grass and nothing to do with your pasture,I wouldn't stress a whole lot but keep a careful eye.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by kasjordan View Post
        One thing to remember, your lawn grass is much different than pasture grass...so if it *really* was the hours on your lawn grass and nothing to do with your pasture,I wouldn't stress a whole lot but keep a careful eye.
        At my place it's all the same, b/c we built in the middle of a hay pasture!

        I thought tall grass was suppose to be safer, too, but then I read it dangerous when it's flowering (if I understood correctly) so I have no idea what to do.

        I only have 2, so I doubt I could get the paddock down to dry lot. I'd have to invest in permanent fencing to subdivide the paddock, b/c the horse in question is a major escape artist. I can't afford that right now.


        • #5
          Since I can neither tell by looking if/when the grass is "safe" nor can I tell the horses which part of the plant to eat, any horse of mine that is at risk for laminitis gets a muzzle if they're going to be out there for longer than about an hour.
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            If like me you have only 2 and like me sounds like you have about 4-5 acres sectioned into 2 fields, your horses most likely will not be able to keep up with the growth as far as eating it down. I have a QH "hony" and a small Draft. The QH gets a muzzle in the early spring until the growth slows down. We do cut both pastures. If I recall correctly grass that is being grazed should ideally be no shorter than 4". We cut the pastures at 5"(highest the mower will go) for the pasture they are grazing and 3" for the pasture that is resting, we have cut 3 times this year so far, with the weather starting to get hot it will slow the growth so we won't have to cut as much. As I said they can't keep up with it and of course they have their favorite grazing spots so some spots are shorter than others. I suggest you limit his grazing time and/or muzzle him and if you don't already take him off at night to either stall or dry lot.

            The only time I had a pony founder was when he was grazing on grass that was overgrazed and stressed. He recovered just fine, we moved them home and put him on these pastures using this same management and he never foundered again and only wore a muzzle in early spring after the first year. Good Luck it can be nerve racking trying to figure out the best management. We always bring ours in and check hooves for heat/pulse too.
            "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

            "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by deltawave View Post
              Since I can neither tell by looking if/when the grass is "safe" nor can I tell the horses which part of the plant to eat, any horse of mine that is at risk for laminitis gets a muzzle if they're going to be out there for longer than about an hour.
              Can you recommend a brand of muzzle? He's broken two so far.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Remington410 View Post
                Can you recommend a brand of muzzle? He's broken two so far.
                I finally resorted to the Best Friend muzzle that attaches to a halter. I put it on a track halter (ie a sturdy leather halter without a clip). This is the only set-up that I can keep on my naughty hony.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Remington410 View Post
                  Can you recommend a brand of muzzle? He's broken two so far.

                  I have the Best Friends kind and the Tuff-One kind, and the trick IME is to make it escape-proof. I have mares, so nobody's out there playing halter/muzzle tag. But the Shetland tries her DARNDEST to remove the thing, every dang day.

                  Best thing I've found is to duct tape an old stirrup leather to the crownpiece of the muzzle (I have the all-in-one kind) and to use the leather as a cribbing strap--buckle it on that way and make it TIGHT with the horse's head up. When they graze it will be plenty loose enough, and this is the ONLY method that is 100% pony-proof, as long as I keep punching holes in the strap since it stretches.

                  I posted a photo somewhere . . .

                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    My Arabian, Willie, has foundered twice, with major rotation both times. The first was due to steroids used in three surgeries for cancer that went wrong because of his undiagnosed (at the time) Cushings disease, and the second was caused by grazing on December grass. Since then, he does not get out of his stall without his grazing muzzle. I use the Breathe-Right or Breathe-Easy (I think that is what it is called) with the halter attached to it. The muzzle has a rectangular eating hole that my farrier made smaller by bolting a hoof pad with a circular hole in it to the bottom of the muzzle. We put on the muzzle/halter combo, and then use a long muzzled fly mask over it to secure it and to keep the other geldings from grabbing the front of the muzzle and helping him out of it. Has worked for a couple years.
                    Good luck - founder is no fun.
                    stained glass groupie


                    • #11
                      deltawave- I don't think the picture is set to public- I'd like to see the system you made up.


                      • #12
                        Click image for larger version

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                        Here you go. You can't see the duct tape (I think it is actually athletic tape on this one) connecting the stirrup leather and the crownpiece of the muzzle, but that's what keeps it together.
                        Click here before you buy.


                        • Original Poster

                          My gelding is managing to break the basket off his muzzle. I think he's either using his hoof to hold the basket and then maybe pulling up until it breaks, or somehow using the fence post. The basket fit about like the one in the picture, so you wouldn't think there would be enough room to do something like that? We have to take extra precautions with him, he's quite clever, he opens gates and stall doors. On one hand he's so well trained it's amazing. On the other hand, he has a lot of quirks, I'm not an experienced horse keeper (always boarded) and I'm never sure what I'm doing is right.