PHOTOGRAPH of Basil, Merlot and Zephyr by Cathy Dee
GOOD ONE DAY THEN NOT SO GREAT THE NEXT?
The metabolism of the normally functioning (non-Grass Affected) horse is perfectly capable of levelling out fluctuations in the nutrient composition of the grass.
While the horses metabolism remains robust and functioning, seasonal and weather-related spikes in potassium, nitrates and sugars do not cause problems.
The metabolic process of maintaining internal equilibrium is called homeostasis. This process involves various glands which produce the messenger hormones. Certain ‘buffer’ minerals and micro-nutrients also need to be present.
The purpose of homeostasis is to maintain the internal environment to prevent it being overcome by external factors that can potentially disrupt the balance.
When horses graze continuously on grass that stays green all year round, the temporary spikes become more like a constant assault and their self-regulating (homeostatic) mechanisms become compromised.
The horse then reaches ‘tipping point’ and is now susceptible to these changes (which may be caused by cool night-time temperatures, frosts, consecutive cloudy days, rain events – especially after a dry spell).
Homeostasis is now prone to disruption which presents as being Grass-affected: head-shaking, EMS, laminitis, sacro-iliac issues, ‘behavioural’ problems etc.
You know the homeostatic mechanisms are not coping when you see these changes in the horse on the outside – loosely referred to as being ‘grass-affected’.
Symptoms will come and go – generally the horse will be better over dry spells, more ‘symptomatic’ a couple of days after rain and not so good in spring and autumn.
Many people who have kept diaries have observed differences in their horse’s behaviour within a few days after it starts raining.
This is why you learn to vary the amount of GrazeEzy accordingly – it is best to increase it as it starts to rain rather than waiting for the horse to become symptomatic (spooky, tight, agitated etc).
You can help to even things out by making sure the horse gets plenty of non-clover/non Lucerne hay every day. Refrain from over-harrowing paddocks/fields or fertilising with nutrients like NPK, take steps to eliminate clover and plantain from the pasture.
What you add into his bucket/hardfeed matters.
When he becomes ‘feed sensitive’ certain feeds can easily tip him over the edge, especially when adrenalin is added to the mix (as in taking him out with a bunch of other horses)
This is the reason when horses have any health, movement and/or behaviour issues that we don’t recommend adding items such as lucerne because by doing so you are adding to the problem, not lightening it.
Some horses can go along for years perfectly happily until one day they reach ‘tipping point’ and everything goes haywire. You are scratching your head because he has been on the same pasture for years. In actual fact his metabolism had been struggling long before it became evident to you on the outside.
In order to help the horse’s metabolism to maintain homeostasis it is important he has access to ‘buffer’ minerals; such as those in GrazeEzy and AlleviateC/SOS/Gold.
These products are based on the many forage analyses of problem grazing we have conducted over the years.
These products are ‘tools’ which help him handle the fluctuations in potassium, nitrate and sugar content of the grass caused by the changes in the weather and the season. There is no one ‘paint by numbers’ solution as every horse is an individual and every property is different.
Contact us for guided help with your horse.
Calm Healthy Horses
You will be amazed at some of these signs of Mineral Imbalances. Some you would never associate with diet! Symptoms may come and go - some symptoms are COMMON. This does not mean they are NORMAL!
Many of you will be thinking: “But lots of these are just ‘people’ problems”. I used to think that too but you’ll find a few simple diet changes will reduce these issues significantly or eliminate them altogether without treatments or ‘working through any issues’ whatsoever.
Download the Calm Healthy Horses CheckList
Tick the B (for Before) column. Introduce the nutritional changes that we recommend on this site and in around 1 - 2 months, tick the A (After) column so you can monitor progress. Fill out one form for each horse.
If you follow our dietary changes and feed the correct supplements, we guarantee you will notice huge changes for the better!
Our recommendation is that you DO NOT RIDE your horse until the symptoms subside. Some horses become extremely dangerous when they are 'Grass Affected'. They can NOT help behaving in this manner - it is not their fault so there is no point in trying to work them through it.
Make a note of the type of grass/hay your horse is on, the season, which CalmHealthyHorses products you are feeding and what hard feed you are feeding. Also ensure you are adding SALT to your horses feed every day.
Take photographs and /or videos if possible of your horses issues and email or message us with them for assessment and guidance.
Zephyr enjoying the beach.
The aim is to keep your horse calm and healthy all year round so you can both simply enjoy your ride!