Spring Turnout Tips for Sugar-Sensitive Horses

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It is that time of the year—the cold, gray winter is transforming into a warm, sunny spring and the grass is starting to grow! For normal horses, the spring grass is a lovely change from hay, but for sugar-sensitive horses it is a dangerous time of year.

Things to know about spring grass

Sugar levels in the leaves of grasses increase dramatically during the spring growing season when days are sunny and warm, and the nights are cool.

Why? Because grass does not grow on cool nights (40° degrees or below), so high concentrations of sugar remain in the leaves instead of being used to fuel growth of stems and roots.

Warm Days (60° or above) + Cool Nights (40° or below) = High sugar levels in grass that can cause laminitis in sensitive horses.

Grazing Strategies

  • Stop grazing completely when days are warm and nights are cold (40° F or less).
  • Limit intake with a muzzle and graze early in the morning when days and nights are warm.
  • Stop grazing when grasses are under stress.
  • Utilize a dry lot for horses that can’t be turned out at all.
  • Overgrazing stresses grasses and increases sugar levels. Keep pastures between four to eight inches in height to reduce overgrazing stress.
    • Overgrazed 0-4 inches
    • Optimal 4-8 inches
    • Too tall 8+ inches

Supplements recommended for sugar-sensitive horses

InsulinWise®

A blend of polyphenols and amino acids that support normal metabolic function and healthy insulin levels. Ask your vet if InsulinWise is right for your horse.

Micro-Phase

Low-sugar, low-calorie vitamin and mineral pellet that fi­lls the nutrient gaps in a diet composed mostly of mature hay or hay cubes. Horses and ponies love Micro-Phase and you will too.

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2 Comments

  • Tami

    Hello my horse (15yrs) foundered over the winter due to eating too much 3rd crop alfalfa. She was lame on one hoof although both were affected. I had the IRAP therapy done on her which helped the lameness. If I feed the insulin wise to her daily am I able to let her graze occasionally? Or must I still watch her diet?

    • Becky

      Our research team recommends that horses who have foundered due to insulin dysregulation should remain on a low sugar diet even when supplemented with InsulinWise. Nutritionists have established that a diet containing no more than 10% sugar is the safest for horses with metabolic syndrome.

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