Spring is in the air and with it, in just about every yard up and down the country you will hear references to 'spring grass', 'laminitis', 'weight gain' or 'excitable behaviour'. For many horse owners that I see this time of year it can be a really worrying time, but it doesn't have to be.
This is why I came up with 7 super simple steps to take the stress out of spring, leaving you free to enjoy your horse: -
1. Don't feed in anticipation of work done. This might sound obvious but I see it all the time on my travels, particularly in spring when riders start to up the work in preparation for competitions and summer adventures. However, don't be tempted to up feed quantity or type until the work you are doing has actually increased and there is the requirement to do so. If you do it may lead to excessive weight gain or potentially unwanted behaviour.
2. Monitor your horse's condition and weight so you notice any changes before they become a problem. I use the 1-9 condition scoring system based on the method developed by Henneke et al (1993). It is assessed both by eye and by touch, looking at 6 key areas of the horse, some of which are often overlooked by owners. It is something I cover in depth with all of my clients. Another strategy, would be to weigh tape your horse at the same time each week. Whilst this will not necessarily be accurate it will show if your horse's weight is starting to change allowing you to take action.
3. Consider restricting grazing for laminitis 'at risk' horses. This may involve using a muzzle. Remember if you do use one to use for a maximum of up to 12 hours a day. When it is removed it is important to stable or put in a bare paddock with forage so that you can control the feed given to them. Do not be tempted to starve an animal however which can lead to serious complications.
4. For some horses you may also need to reduce the amount of hard feed you are giving. This will allow for the extra calories/energy that will be coming from spring grazing.
5. Ensure the diet is balanced. If you are feeding below manufacturer feed guidelines it is possible your horse or pony may not be receiving all the vitamins and minerals they require. A great way to rectify this is to consider adding a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement.
6. Always provide fresh clean water. This is a great time to get scrubbing those field troughs if you haven't already!!
7. Get your horse's diet checked. Start as you mean to go on and ensure you are well prepared for the coming months by seeking advice from an experienced equine nutritionist.
To book a visit this spring please contact Donna directly on +44 (0)7901 337826 or firstname.lastname@example.org