Poll Recap: Lush Spring Pastures

Poll Recap: Lush Spring Pastures

174 readers (18%) said they would not restrict their horses’ spring pasture intake.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Last week, we asked visitors to TheHorse.com how they would be restricting their horses’ spring pasture intake. Nearly 1,000 readers responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 991 respondents, 260 readers (26%) said they would reduce their horses’ turnout time, while 188 individuals (19%) said they would use a combination of methods. Another 156 individuals said they would restrict their horses’ pasture intake by turning them out in a dry-lot, followed closely by 124 readers (13%) who said their horses would be wearing a grazing muzzle this spring. Another 62 people (6%) said they would use strip grazing, and 27 respondents (3%) said they would use a different method than listed in the poll options. Finally, 174 readers (18%) said they would not restrict their horses’ spring pasture intake.

Poll Results

Nearly 100 respondents also provided comments about how they manage their horses’ lush spring pasture intake.

Several readers explained why they don't restrict their horses' pasture intake: 

  • "I don't restrict grazing intake, just increase exercise."
  • "My OTTB's paddock doesn't have tons of grass, so his intake isn't restricted. He's never had a problem."
  • "They are on pasture 24/7/365. I have no stalls or paddocks."
  • "Our horses are pastured 24/7. They eat as much as they want. It has never been a problem."
  • "Horses are out 24 hours a day. No need to restrict intake."
  • "I dont restrict because they are in pasture all the time."
  • "I don't restrict his pasture intake, but he's in a relatively small paddock with not much grass."
  • "They are in the pasture year-round with run-in sheds. I've never had a problem with spring pasture intake."
  • "They adjust themselves as the grass grows up."

Others said they limit their horses' turnout time or alter the time of day the horses have access to pasture:

  • "I change the time of day for turnout. I wait until afternoon (to turn out)."
  • "Limited daily pasture turnout. The rest of the day in paddocks."
  • "Until July 1, I limit the boys' time on the green grass to only a couple of hours a day."
  • "(My horses) graze in the early morning before 11 a.m. It lessens sugar intake."
  • "We have two (out of three) horses that are prone to founder so all have minimal pasture time in spring."
  • "I'm careful about limiting hand grazing in the areas with lush grass he's not used to."
  • "Reduce turnout time every spring. It's a major pain but it has to be done or he will colic."
  • "Progressive amout of time to pasture to acclimate (the horses) to eating fresh grass."
  • "In Bulgaria it is (common) to tether horses. We will tether at first, our version of strip grazing."

Some readers commented about using muzzles on their horses: 

  • "My little pony has a grazing muzzle all year-round."
  • "My horse foundered last spring. She will be in a muzzle when not in a dry lot."
  • "I have two fatties that can live on air, but I like to see them out and about. So I must use a grazing muzzle."
  • "(My horse) has mastered the art of eating through a grazing muzzle."

Many people said that their method depends on the individual horse’s needs:

  • "Varied needs require varied strategies. (My) pony, elder, and performance all (need) something different."
  • "I have 10 horses all with different needs. Grass restriction varies for each."
  • "Reduced turnout for horse, brief turnout for mini-donkey, but no grass for standard donkey."
  • "Only the founder-prone ponies will be restricted. The others will be fine on pasture."
  • "I have five grazing horses but only one has to be restricted due to insulin resistance."
  • "(My Mini mare (wears a) muzzle and has limited turnout. (My) senior Arab gelding (has pasture) access 24/7."
  • "Some of mine don't need to be restricted but some do."
  • "Only need to reduce intake for two horses in the herd."

Others said they use a combination of methods to limit their horses' pasture intake: 

  • "I reduce turnout time and use a grazing muzzle."
  • "I limit time out on pastures and do patch grazing."
  • "We start with hand-grazing, then resticted grazing, increase gradually. Also use a dry lot."
  • "I alternate between half day in the stall and using a grazing muzzle."
  • "I am very careful in spring and use a combination (of methods), but only one horse needs a muzzle."
  • "We slowly build up grazing time and put the horses in dry lots when not on pasture."
  • "I use grazing muzzles and keep the horses up during peak 'sugar' hours."
  • "We carefully transition the horses from all hay to all pasture in May. Some wear muzzles all summer."

Finally, a few readers said they feed hay to help gradually introduce the horse's into the Spring pasture. 

  • "Feed hay first then turn out gradually."
  • "I continue to feed hay throughout spring to buffer against the effects of spring grass."
  • "We always want them used to eating hay, and also to keep them from foundering."
  • "I feed hay before the horses get to go out in the spring grass, then slowly increase the time out."
  • "Because of where we are, my horses have no pasture and are fed hay all year round."

You can find more information about Spring horse feeding considerations, and how grazing muzzles can be used to help reduce pasture intake at TheHorse.com.

This week, we want to know: has your horse ever been diagnosed with gastric ulcers? Vote in the poll and share your comments!

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More