Pollen and Pastures

I live in the south. This mean that March brings all the wonderful thoughts and dreams of a possible early spring. In Georgia, radio stations are already giving pollen counts and warning us of the ‘worst pollen season ever.” Though I seem to recall this warning happening every year…

Spring is when most people start thinking about summer bodies and getting active to look good at that Memorial Day picnic.

Spring is also a time that can create total chaos for a horse lover. Yes, we start looking forward to the spring show season or weekly trail rides without the need to carry HotHands. We don’t always forward to the latest annual fashion trend-the horse hair hoodie!

As a responsible horse owner we also need to educate ourselves on the potential dangers of spring grass. Spring grass is just waiting to burst at the roots and fill our paddocks with lush green sugar filled grass. A true all you can eat buffet for the equine world unless a proper pasture and turnout management program is implemented.

When people eat too much sugar, we increase our risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. When a horse eats too much sugary grass he is at risk for developing Insulin Resistance. In either case, the results can be health compromising and even deadly.

If your horse develops a digital pulse, please consider his condition a potential veterinary emergency and remove him from all pasture and contact your vet. A digital pulse is an indication of inflammation in the hoof. Inflammation in a horse hoof is an indication of laminitis.

Laminitis is actually a problem that goes far beyond the hoof of the horse. It is a condition that effects the connective tissue throughout the entire body of the horse. The body-wide inflammation may present in ways that can be mistaken for other equine health concerns.

If you notice that the grass is looking greener on this side of the fence and you notice any of the following symptoms, please consider removing your horse from his pasture,  contact your vet and check your horse daily for the development of a digital pulse:

saddle fit or bridling/bitting issues
hoof cracks or thrush
sudden development of flares or long toes and low heels
sudden development of high heels or a ‘coke can’ appearance of the hoof
stifle issues or sacrum soreness
spooking or new behavioral issues

If you remove your horse from all pasture and any of the symptoms subside, it might be time to create a dry lot/paddock and research ways to portion his hay so that he is able to ‘graze’ throughout the day.

Don’t let spring growth catch you in a winter slumber when it comes to being aware of physical and emotional changes in your horse. Your horse will thank you for your extra effort to make sure his spring is also one that includes wonderful thoughts and dreams of shows and trails.

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