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Laminitis - At risk - Beware the fit horse

Are you turning out your horse? 

With the extreme wet we have experienced throughout this winter and now being faced with the impact the coronavirus is having on us, many of our annual routines have changed.  Lack of training and competitions have resulted in additional turnout which leads to increased grass intake.  It is at this time of year when spring grass is starting to take hold and as temperatures increase consistently over 5 degrees’ grass will grow and this can be a jeopardise good health.

Watch out for the ‘spring’

The flush of spring grass is more ‘potent’ in many ways than regular growth as during the spring the increased daylight brings about photosynthesis.  This process creates non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), which store in the grass overnight.  When your horse or pony is turned out either in the morning or whether they have been turned out full time, the morning grass provides them with what is effectively a ‘sugar rush’.  This can lead to a rather ‘fresh’ horse or pony to handle, ride and sometimes due to the influx of energy - they may choose to expel it in their field by having a good gallop and buck! 

Laminitis can often result from this process, not only in prone individuals but in those that are fit and in work, sudden dietary changes can often be a trigger.  Very often a high cereal diet (likely to be high in NSCs) may increase the susceptibility of that individual and there is now believed to be a genetic impact.  Therefore, if you do have a fit horse it is wise to be aware of the dietary impact from laying horses off too quickly, with a particular focus on pasture-associated laminitis.

What can we do?

Management and good practice is key to safeguarding individuals so that laminitis does not occur throughout this at risk period with the annual flush of spring grass.  With the current coronavirus pandemic, we have to ensure we provide the right nutrients to stabilise prone individuals while supporting those that may become at risk due to a sudden change in their routine.  With veterinary support, nutritional advice and good management, this three pronged defence can support you from attack.

As ever our NAF helpline is on hand to discuss any advice you may require or if you would simply like to have a good chat with a likeminded individual.  0800 373106

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