As the days suddenly start to draw in and the grass appears to be turning, it can be tempting to turn lamintic horses and ponies back out full time with the belief it is safe to do so. Unfortunately however that isn’t always the case…
What is an 'Autumn Flush'?
Even once the grass appears to have gone off colour it is impossible to know what levels of Water Soluble Carbohydrates(WSCs) are contained, and in fact grass may experience an ‘autumn flush’.
The perfect mix of warm soil from the summer months and sudden onset of autumn rain can lead to growth of thick, lush, leafy grass packed full of WSC’s! Warm sunny days followed by a drop in temperature, often experienced at this time of year, can also be a problem. Grass cannot grow in temperatures lower than 5 degress, so the WSC produced during the day is not being used up overnight, meaning all that sugar is allowed to build up and you can’t blame your four legged friend for gobbling up the extra sweet stuff!
How to help prevent laminitis
Grazing should continue to be restricted by strip grazing, grazing muzzles, use of bare paddocks or menages. Once the rain starts to pour however, or the ground is frozen, bare paddocks can quickly turn into mud wallows and frozen blocks, so it is important to supplement with soaked hay/hay replacer. All horses and ponies require a minimum of 1.5% (dry matter) of their bodyweight in forage per day (7.5kg for a 500kg horse).
For more information on soaking hay and hay replacers check out our advice on managing a laminitc horse.
Why you should balance your horse's diet
Offering a balanced diet is key for any horse or pony and especially those with laminitis to help ensure they have everything they need to promote a healthy digestive system, hoof health etc.
If still maintaining weight on their forage alone, we advise offering your horse or pony a balancer, to ensure the correct levels of vitamins, minerals and quality proteins but without causing excess weight gain. SPILLERS Daily Balancer is the ideal option, costing just 56p per day for a 500kg horse.
This balancer contains negligible starch and sugar when fed at the recommended rate, making it ideal for your laminitic horse or pony. The SPILLERS Daily Balancer also provides 15mg of Biotin per 500g serving, scientifically proven to support hoof health.
How to help maintain a healthy weight
Winter can provide the perfect opportunity for those horses and ponies who have been doing a little too well in warmer months, to finally shed those extra pounds. Don’t be tempted to rug up, instead let them use their own body fat to keep themselves warm.
If your lamintic does have a tendency to drop off however, start by checking you are feeding the recommended ration of low energy/calorie feed, as a simple increase may be all that’s needed. If this isn’t helping, offer a feed with a higher level of digestible energy/calories but always avoiding cereal based feeds with high starch content, opting for fibre and oil instead.