Feeding Horses with Laminitis – What you Need to Know
Laminitic horses need an extra level of care and consideration when it comes to feeding. Managing a laminitic horse properly is essential, and the condition of your horse should be monitored year-round. Follow these basic tips, and you should find your horse’s laminitis becomes easier to manage.
Too much grazing on lush grass can cause laminitis to flare up, which is why it’s imperative to keep even more of an eye on your horse in the spring when the grass comes through. Don’t wait until your horse is overweight before you start tackling the issue. Instead, allow your horse to lose weight in the winter so they don’t come into the spring with weight to lose!
Limit your horse’s time grazing or try strip grazing. Keeping them in the stable or in a pasture-free turnout area such as an arena can really help, and they can still enjoy low-calorie forage. Grazing muzzles can also help restrict the amount of grass your horse eats, but ensure it doesn’t affect their drinking.
Feed Low Sugar Forage
The spring grass often causes flare-ups because it is high in sugar, so if you are restricting their grazing you should replace the grass with low sugar forage. This includes mature hay, or you can soak your hay yourself for around 30 minutes to remove the sugars.
If your horse needs a hard feed as well as forage, ensure it’s low sugar and grain-free. This means no oats, corn, wheat, rice or barley. Chaff-based feeds are good, but these shouldn’t contain molasses.
Use a Balancer
Restricting your horse’s access to grass will not only reduce their calories, but it’ll also cut down their intake on vitamins, minerals, protein, and amino acids. Keeping on top of these means that if they do have a bout of laminitis, their bodies will be better able to beat it.
Your horse may also benefit from supplements such as magnesium or chromium. There’s a range of balancers on the market that can help improve your horse’s overall health and replace the nutrients they will lose from restricted grazing.
Monitor their Condition
Be careful to nip any sudden changes to your horse’s condition in the bud. If your horse begins to gain weight, restrict their access to grazing further, perhaps stabling them for longer periods of time or reducing the amount of low sugar forage they can consume. If boredom is an issue, there are ways to make their forage last longer by putting their hay in nets with much smaller holes. If your horse can be exercised, a gentle routine will reduce their risk and help them to lose weight.
If your laminitic horse needs to gain weight, increase the amount of low sugar forage you feed them. Do not be tempted to let them gorge on less grass or start feeding them high sugar or high calorie hard feeds. If additional weight gain is needed, start slowly adding oil to their diet.
Remember when it comes to feeding, any changes should be made slowly. Totally cutting out one thing and adding another can upset your horse’s digestion. If you’re worried that you’re not feeding the right thing, seek the advice of a vet.