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Green Spring Grass Woes: How I Manage My Horse on Fresh Grass

Posted on: May 10, 2024 by Annina McMillan
a golden yellow horse in a red halter grazes on fresh green grass, the leadrope on the halter is being held by a brunette woman in a grey shirt and blue jeans

I don’t know about you, but I am so excited for spring! Warmer days, more sunshine, and seeing all the spring foliage come in is lovely. Except – what if your horse is sensitive to fresh, green grass? Whether your horse is an easy keeper, sensitive to sugars, or adjusting to new fresh forage, there are quite a few adjustments to be made to account for this change.

Below are a few of the things I do to help my horse with spring grass adjustments. But, just to note: For any horse – I and my fellow SmartPakers always recommend working with your veterinarian and trainer to address your horse’s specific health needs.

1. Use Weight Tape to Keep Tabs on Your Horse’s Condition

Since my horse’s main concern with spring grass is being an easy keeper, I do my best to keep on top of his weight. This means knowing his weight and condition before the spring grazes starts so I can track how he's doing throughout the season.

It can be hard to accurately know your horse’s weight, so I recommend having a SmartPak Weight Tape on hand. This makes it super easy take measurements and compare across time. That all said, I would recommend taking the weight tape with a grain of salt – a scale is still the best measure of weight but understandably, most barns do not have a horse-sized scales available! For my horse, I don’t focus on the number the weight tape shows, but more as a way to note changes. It’s to help keep an eye on the trend and if the value is higher or lower than the previous time I measured with the tape. I find checking monthly is helpful to keep an eye on my horse, but I would certainly recommend adjusting that frequency to your horse. For example, I do check more if there are adjustments in workload or other factors.

2. Find a Grazing Muzzle that Works

a yellow horse grazes calmly in a wooden fenced pasture wearing a black grazing muzzle

For many horses – they need restricted access to that fresh, lush spring pasture. This can help with slowing down their grass intake and ensuring they can still spend many enjoyable hours moving around outside without the worry of them taking in too much sugar too quickly.

One option to restrict how much grass, is use a grazing muzzle! Grazing muzzles are a great way for many horses to limit their ability to much on that sugary, fresh spring grass while still giving them access to turnout. For my horse, the Tough One Deluxe Easy Breathe V Muzzle is the one I find works best for him. He begrudgingly accepts this grazing muzzle, and still drinks water with it on (as well as accept low-sugar treats from my hand). It also seems to be most comfortable with this option. The V-attachment helps keep the grazing muzzle in pace as well, minimizing the chances for rubs.

3. Plan for Optimal Turnout Time (If Possible)

If you also have green grass woes for your horse – depending on your boarding arrangement or farm set up, adjusting turnout may be an option. I know this isn't always an option for everyone, though, so feel free to skip to the next step if these adjustments are not an option for you.

That said, if your horse is sensitive to sugars or an easy keeper – if possible, switching to a dry lot may be a better option for your horse. In a dry lot, it removes the issue of sugary grass completely. Another option is to take into account the sugar cycles of grass. Grass needs sunlight to create sugars through the process of photosynthesis – which means sugar levels are often lowest in the early morning, since grass has been using up sugar stores overnight. This means for our lovely horses that are prone to spring green grass woes – it is often better to turn them out early in the morning, and then bring them in a little sooner in the afternoon. Sugar production is often the highest during the late afternoon, and accounting for these daily changes can be helpful.

4. Support from the Inside with Targeted Supplements

Digestion & Hindgut Support

One of the most helpful things I have done for my horse to help with adjustments in feed (from varying sugar levels in pasture to different hay cuttings, etc) is hindgut support! Making sure my horse’s hindgut is supported to function at its best was a no brainer for me. I use SmartDigest® Ultra Pellets with my horse. I love the DVEquine™ Postbiotic and combination of pre- and probiotics (is also comes in a powder form which is a great budget-friendly option for horses that don't mind powder supplements). Supporting the hind gut is also helpful for many other areas of horse health. A healthy hind gut helps ensure he's absorbing nutrients as effectively as possible, the beneficial bacteria also produce necessary nutrients, such as various B vitamins and vitamin K. The hindgut is also a critical part of the immune system!

Plus, if you choose a ColiCare supplement, you can also apply for our ColiCare program. With the ColiCare, your horse is covered with $15,000 worth of colic surgery reimbursement. I hope I never have to use it, but if I do, I love the peace of mind it gives me to make the best decision for my horse, regardless of finances. ColiCare program a great benefit, but unfortunately there are a few exceptions for abdominal surgery, vet attended colics, and chronic colics. (If you have any specific questions on the ColiCare program, please feel free to reach out to our Customer Care Team at 1-800-461-8898!)

Daily Metabolic Support
a close up of the head, neck, shoulders, and front legs of a buckskin mare grazing on green grass

For some horses, the sugary spring grass is just more than their metabolism needs. For my easy keeper, he needs a little more help to help maintain a healthy weight, especially when adjustments are made in the spring with fresh grass, different hay, and so on. To provide targeted metabolism support, SmartMetabo-Lean Pellets is a great addition! This is includes chromium and magnesium to support proper insulin function plus bitter melon to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In program with exercise and feed adjustments has allowed Titan to maintain a healthy body condition. This is a great addition to any easy keeper’s supplement program.

Additional Equine Metabolic Supplements:

Daily Lamina Support

For other horses – supporting lamina health is a greater concern. For any lameness and hoof concerns, we do always recommend connecting with your veterinarian regarding your horse’s specific situation. SmartLamina Pellets are designed to support healthy lamina – with omega 3 fatty acids and ingredients to support a healthy inflammation response, such as MSM, Devil’s Claw, and Boswellia. This is designed with those easy keepers and pituitary dysfunction. Plus, since this does not contain biotin or other common hoof nutrients, this can be used in conjunction with your favorite hoof supplement.

Consider a Multivitamin:

Depending on your easy keeper or boarding situation, grain and ration balancers may not be the right fit. If this is the case for whatever reason, I would recommend including a multivitamin as a daily supplement to fill in the mineral and vitamin gaps left by a forage only diet. We have a range of multivitamins that vary depending on your horse’s age and activity level. Plus, they are pelleted, and picky eater approved, which is perfect for easy keepers that might not need any grain at feed time! These are all available in daily dose SmartPaks to make feeding easier for your barn, and our Customer Care Team is happy to answer any questions or provide recommendations on what is the best fit for your horse.

Spring changes can be intimidating, but you're not alone! Between your veterinarian, your barn manager, your riding friends, and us here at SmartPak, you've got a lot of support to help make this your horse's healthiest spring yet. Meanwhile, think thin, metabolically healthy thoughts for me and my horse as we go through the same struggles!