Horses at high risk for laminitis need special care when
it comes to grazing. BY HOLLY CACCAMISE
Most of us harbor a dream of our horse out in a lush field of emerald-green grass, eating away the days to his heart’s content. But this picturesque vision can be more of a nightmare than a dream for horses with metabolic conditions. / High-Risk Horses / If you have an easy keeper, hardy little pony, Cushing’s horse or one with equine metabolic syndrome, there’s a high chance that
unlimited grazing will trigger laminitis.
Weather conditions and pasture maintenance are the easiest things to keep an
eye on outdoors; there are also some physical signs to check for in your horse.
/ Weather /
Grasses store up the starches and
sugars that trigger metabolic (
slow-onset) laminitis when the weather is
sunny and below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The grass can’t put sugars to use
for growth, so they get “backed up.”
This often happens in spring and fall,
depending on your climate.
In places like Texas, grasses get a
spike in sugars when it is very hot
and sunny. In places with cool-sea-son grasses, the stress of drought will
cause a sugar pile-up.
/ Pasture Care /
Pastures should be kept mowed, since
the seed heads are where sugars are
most concentrated. Think of them
as “horse candy.” Certain broadleaf
weeds left to grow out of control can
also be a problem; think of how much
horses like to eat dandelions, which
can be very high in sugars.