GRASS BALANCE FOR HORSES:
We talk a lot on this site about balancing and restricting green grass intake for our horses in favour of encouraging owners to feed a more species-appropriate diet to our equine friends for better health and improved temperament.
We mainly recommend this style of grazing to avoid the many medical problems that plague New Zealand horses due to their exposure to rich farming grasses that thrive all too well here in our
wet and warm climate.
These unsuitable grasses can cause many issues to develop, such as laminitis and attacks upon the horse's central nervous system that can make our horses very sick indeed, in addition to severely affecting their behaviour negatively too, which can develop from eating the mycotoxins and high sugars contained within our New Zealand pastures.
What we hope others have learned from our articles about grass, diet, and horses is that the best approach by far for a healthy horse is to try to have a balanced grass management plan, where we feed our horses some grass and plenty of low sugar hay mixed with some barley straw for the best results as to keep plant sugars to a minimum.
As we have found, hands down, this is the best approach to having happy and healthy horses.
What we want to stress and definitely do not want to see or hear about is horses not having any grass at all and being fed on an all-hay diet, unless of course, they are in the recovery stage from an illness such as say, an active bout of Laminitis or if they are in the elimination stage of being grass affected or other grass related issue.
Without a shadow of a doubt, horses need fresh green grass daily, albeit for the vast majority, only in small amounts. This is because they cannot get the much-needed nutrients they require for a truly healthy body from an all-hay diet, especially for the long term.
Now, before you rush out to let your horses on to that rich meadow, we ask that you understand that letting horses graze full-time pastures is not what we recommend here. SO IT IS A DEFINITE BIG NO TO THAT.
What we are saying is to let your horse have access to a small amount of fresh grass every day; perhaps for you and your circumstances, that could be by break feeding a small strip to them or by having your horses access some grass from grazing them on a track, or by letting them have just an hour or two out on the paddock, or from taking them out for a walk to have a feed on a small amount of grass. Whichever way works for you, we can highly recommend this approach.
PLEASE NOTE: Horses with active laminitis should continue to receive NO GREEN GRASS until they have made a 100% recovery.
However, for the rest of our horses, the reason they benefit from grass is that fresh grass is packed full of essential nutrients that horses turn into much-needed vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which aid digestion and help to avert many issues such as ulcers, colic and improve water content to name but a few of the benefits.
So we are asking for you to continue to manage your horse's grass intake and be stricter with them now that we are heading onto spring or at other times when grass growth is prolific, but also allow them to have a little grass as their health will benefit from it.
We hope this will help you to achieve a happy balance of grazing for your horse.