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winter grazing??

petersdeni@...
 

Hi all,


I was just wondering....is it relatively safe to allow an IR/ PPID horse to be turned out on pasture in the dead of winter here in MN with approximately 14 inches of snow cover and grass beneath the snow.  Lots of movement trudging through the snow and lots of hard work pawing to get at the grass beneath for small rewards.  It is my understanding that the sugars go into the roots vs. being readily available above ground.  Am I mistaken.  Thank you.


Denise

Shalimar - MN

NRCPlus 2010


 

That is exactly what I did in 2005 and Joe came back to the barn with full-blown laminitis. It's not about how much sugar is in the grass, it's about how much insulin is in the horse. If your horse is well managed and his insulin is under control, he may be able to tolerate controlled grazing, with supervision, but without knowing, we would never recommend this.

And yes, of course, it's also about how much sugar is in the grass. First and foremost, know what's going on with your horse. I can turn Joe out now because his insulin has been under control for over 10 years, thanks to what I've learned here. When I turned him out 10 years ago, on that snowy day and he pawed through the grass, he was obese, had a huge crest and was the poster child for IR. I was ignorant. Don't do what I did!

Kathleen (KFG in KCMO)
Missouri - USA - Dec 2005

Paula Hancock
 



Hi Denise,
Last winter, I was determined that I would get my two Morgans out in the snow without muzzles so they could run and play with their Jolly balls like they used to do, before IR diagnosis.  Finally, we had snow that glazed over hard and then a foot of new snow on top.  I figured they couldn't paw through that and the footing was great.  They spend the whole 45 minute turnout digging in the snow near fence posts and I spend the whole time watching them to make sure they didn't get any grass instead of cleaning their stalls and dry lots... :o(   Ever since, I happily put their blocked muzzles on (Best Friends Deluxe muzzles with plastic grazing muzzles inserted, the only combination that worked for them), they run around muzzle boxing each other, rearing, trying to take each other down by catching the muzzle behind the front leg of the other horse.  For me, turnout is a chance for them to run around, get some exercise, roll and have fun.  Digging in the snow has no value to me. My one horse Cory's insulin will go into the danger zone with any hay much over 6% ESC + starch, so no pasture grass, ever, for him. Hay is grass, any way, I just need to make sure it is safe for him.  He is slender, in work, on a balanced diet per NRC plus guidelines and I don't see how it would ever be safe for him to have any untested grass.
Just thought I would share my experience, in case it helps.
Best regards,
-Paula with Cory (IR) and Onyx (IR) in Bucks County, PA, USA

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---In EquineCushings@..., <petersdeni@...> wrote :

Hi all,


I was just wondering....is it relatively safe to allow an IR/ PPID horse to be turned out on pasture in the dead of winter here in MN with approximately 14 inches of snow cover and grass beneath the snow.  Lots of movement trudging through the snow and lots of hard work pawing to get at the grass beneath for small rewards.  It is my understanding that the sugars go into the roots vs. being readily available above ground.  Am I mistaken.  Thank you.


Denise

Shalimar - MN

NRCPlus 2010


 

ThePitchforkPrincess@...
 

Hi Denise,

You said " lots of hard work pawing to get at the grass beneath for small rewards. "

The reward may be bigger than you think.  

Understanding how grass grows is paramount to understanding exactly why it is unsafe to let IR horses have untested grass (or any plant actually).  We all know grass uses sunlight to grow.  However what isn't common knowledge (at least I certainly didn't know this till I joined the ECIR a decade or so ago)is that grass turns that sunlight into sugar that it stores in it's cells until night.  

At night the plant uses the stored sugar to grow but only IF conditions for growing are in place. If the grass is stressed in any way, (not enough moisture, over grazing or the temperatures is below 7 °F) the sugar stays in storage and the next day the grass keeps on turning sunlight into sugar. 

There is no way (other than testing) to know how much sugar was actually in the grass when it went dormant.  If I were to place money on it, because autumn days can be quite warm and sunny with cold nights,  I'd bet that the grass (which is what keeps many wild animals going through the winter?) even in the coldest areas and under super deep snow,  would be sky high in sugar.  

- ​LeeAnne, Newmarket, Ontario

ECIR Archivist 03/2004

 

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Portagecreek
 

Paula - your message is exactly what I was wondering about. I think we have similar winters here in New Brunswick, Canada.
I don't think my Morgan is sound enough to run around the field but I would love to get him out of his very muddy paddock and moving about. We have about 10 acres of fenced grassy fields and woods and I am so sad to think he won't be able to enjoy them again.

Would it be a good assumption that the only safe thing to do is supervised turnout with a muzzle?
--
Natalie
New Brunswick, Canada
2019

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Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

On Wed, Nov 6, 2019 at 01:09 PM, Portagecreek wrote:
Would it be a good assumption that the only safe thing to do is supervised turnout with a muzzle?
 Yes, that's a safe assumption! Winter pastures are not safe. Grasses in their dormant stage survive the winter by having very high concentrations of sugar in the base and roots of the plant.
 
--
Eleanor in PA

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