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Grass-Staggers Alert!



Horses may show some or all of the following signs of ‘Staggers’:

· Muscular weakness – giving out in the hind quarters

‘Plaiting’ with the front legs while walking

· Looking like they’re drunk

. Falling over

· Heavy on the forehand, stumbling/tripping over nothing

. Difficulty backing up and walking downhill

· Standing base wide

. Trouble judging distances as if their eyesight is affected,

. Spooking at things underneath them, eg when jumping

· Hypersensitive to sounds

· The ‘Zonked look’ ...



For every extreme case, where it is really obvious, there are hundreds of mild to moderate cases with maybe a touch of these symptoms – best not ignore them!


There are actually TWO possible causes of ‘Grass Staggers’:


1. The mycotoxin – Lolitrem B which is produced by the endophyte in Perennial Rye Grass (and Tall Fescue if you are in North America) from late summer through to Autumn. If there is no rye-grass in your paddock, or if what is there is ‘endophyte-free’, then this is not the cause.

2. Autumn (or Spring) grass growth causing mineral imbalances which can disrupt normal nerve and muscle function - evident in visible symptoms listed above especially incoordination (ataxia) and weakness in the hind-quarters.


First line of thought is ‘lack of magnesium’ – magnesium is only one aspect of mineral imbalances involved in operating nerves and muscles – it is important to address the whole picture.


There are many cases where no amount of toxin binder or magnesium seem to make any difference so here’s what to do:


The best course of action is take the horse off the offending pasture and feed ad-lib hay.

It is very important to keep the horse SAFE while he is so unsteady, make sure there is zero possibility he could accidentally stagger or fall into fences, down steep hills or into ditches.


Give him a ‘Chaff Slurry’ containing salt, AlleviateGold & SOS multiple times a day until he is steady again.


Time frames for staggers cases to regain coordination vary from horse to horse but are usually around 1-10 days.


The moral of the story is - even when turned out, give your horse a daily feed containing daily essential nutrients including salt, macro & trace minerals, vitamins and protein which will keep him properly nourished and therefore way less susceptible!

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