Fall Grazing: Do It Safely

Spring grazing gets all the buzz. But, did you know that fall grass can be just as dangerous as its springtime counterpart?
“While grass tends to be lower in fructans and starch during the summer heat, the situation changes as the nighttime temperatures dip in the fall,” said internationally known integrative veterinarian Dr. Joyce Harman, owner and operator of Harmany Equine.  “Laminitis is a very real threat once the nights turn cool and grass gets stressed.”
Here are a few tips:
Watch the overnight temperatures. Grass produces sugar and starch due to photosynthesis during the day. During warmer months, grass would burn up these carbs during the night (thus making the early morning hours the safest time to graze). However, grass likes to hold onto the sugars overnight during the Fall, therefore it’s not a good idea to let your horse graze on pasture when it was below 40 degrees the night before.
Stressed grass is high in sugar! Grasses that have been over-grazed during the summer months, suffering from drought or grass that has been touched by frost is stressed, therefore it is unsafe to let your at-risk horse graze.
Take a close look at brown grass. Although warm season grasses go dormant in the Fall, be careful before you turn your insulin resistant or laminitic horse out on brown grass– many times, if it’s still warm during the day, there will be green, sugar-rich blades still growing.
Grab a Muzzle: Muzzles allow a horse to behave normally in the pasture in terms of exercise and socialization without running the risk of over-grazing.
The Harmany Muzzle, designed by Dr. Joyce Harman, is totally customizable, from molding it to a horse’s head shape to determining how much, or how little, grass is available to a horse. It is also made of a medical grade plastic with Kevlar fibers, making it much lighter than other available muzzles without sacrificing durability. Bonus— it’s 50% more breathable than traditional muzzles AND it’s easy to keep clean. Learn more about it here.
Want to learn more? Check out her recorded webinar on Fall grazing here.
Dr. Joyce Harman opened Harmany Equine Clinic, Ltd in 1990, bringing holistic healing to horses from all walks of life, backyard retirees to Olympic competitors. Over the years, Dr. Joyce Harman has observed and adapted to the changing needs the industry. Twenty-plus years ago, no one had heard of Lyme disease or Insulin Resistance, yet today that makes up a large part of her clinical practice.
In 2001, she wrote the first paper in a peer-reviewed journal about the possibility that horses have insulin resistance (IR), and now it is part of our every day conversation. In 2004 she published the first comprehensive book on English saddle fitting since the 1800’s, with the western version of the book following in 2006. To this date, these books are the only books written by an author who is independent from a saddle company, which brings unbiased information to the horse world.

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