Spring Grass: how to help your Horse
Spring has arrived, bringing the much anticipated warmer, longer days after a long Winter.
However, it also brings a whole host of troubles for horse and pony owners! With old winter coats shedding, resulting in plumes of stray hairs, change of rugs and then the dreaded spring grass!
Whilst some bloom with the fresh grass, for many horses and ponies it signifies the start of a battle with maintaining a healthy weight balance and keeping four hooves on the ground!
There are 2 main factors which you can control to try and curb their new found energy and excitement;
Many Horses and Ponies exhibit ‘fresh’ behaviour in the spring. This can be due to a number of reasons, a bit of sun on their back, being ridden more, but mostly it’s due to the ‘spring grass’. Whilst generally it’s just excitability, this undesirable behaviour, which can include spooking, bucking and generally being more spritely, can have an affect on riders confidence.
There are a few options to help curb these overly exuberant actions;
- Horse Walker – a great way to get energetic horses exercised without needing to be ridden. It’s also useful to warm them up and ‘get their backs down’ ahead of being ridden. By doing so can reduce the risk of both rider and horse injury. Horse Walkers are a great way of utilising the riders time effectively too, as you can be mucking out while they are on the walker. They don’t have to cost a fortune either, as you can purchase just a Horse Walker and add the fencing yourself.
- Lunging – this is a quick method to enable the horses to let off steam before being ridden. It can be performed anywhere there’s space accommodating the length of a lunge line – very handy directly before a competition! However, it can come with risks if not done correctly when handling an excitable steed, so do take care.
- Variety of exercise – switch their routines around to keep things interesting. Just doing the same routine in a school can get boring for horses and present an opportunity to play up. Keep their exercise varied with hacking, schooling, horse walker, gallops etc.
- Handling – If the horse is getting ‘bolshy’ on the ground, ensure you keep their manners in check through consistent and concise handling.
Spring grass to a horse is akin to chocolate to humans!
You can help with the changes to the grass by using the following methods;
- Gut Balancers – to help maintain their gut through the changes and supplements containing magnesium which may aid their concentration levels.
- Restrict Grazing – bring your horse into their stable or field shelter for a few hours. This can be during the day or night, as some owners with horses susceptible to laminitis turn out at night, due to the sun bringing out the sugars in the grass. Grazing muzzles, strip grazing and grazing in a herd can also aid restricting the intake of sugary spring grass.
- Ensure access to hay – although chances are they will prefer the grass, any time spent eating hay is a bonus. You can also dampen or soak their hay to take any sugars out of the hay they are eating.
As always, if your horses behaviour is really out of character, seek professional help from a vet. If they’re confirmed as healthy but just full of themselves, contact an instructor. They can help you work the horse through the excitable spring months, keep your confidence and you both safe!