Earlier this spring there was so much rain and so much mud that the girls were destroying all the grass in their pasture. They ate the tender shoots of grass faster than they could grow. It takes grass about 21 days for grass to be established, so we removed them before the whole pasture became a mud pit.
We cordoned off about half their pasture, which they quickly turned into dust. On the other side of the fence, and with all the rain, the grass has grown like gangbusters. The temptation must be intense. All that separates Zelda and Curly from that grass is a single strand of tape. It’s not even electrified.
The problem is, now we have lush, green growth and two horses that are no longer used to eating it. Horse’s don’t do well with sudden changes to their diet and spring grass has an especially high sugar content. Eating too much too soon can lead to colic or founder.
To acclimatize your horse to lush grass, you need to start slowly — no more than 15 minutes per day of hand grazing for the first few days. Gradually increase the grazing time by 10 minutes per day until you’ve reached the same amount of time that you would hand graze.
Limit grazing to no more than four hours per day for two weeks. Of course, there is an advantage to limiting turnout. It also preserves your grass. Freedom is turned out on about two acres by himself; his grass stays healthy. Zelda and Curly are voracious eaters. The grass doesn’t stand a chance. In theory, you should remove a horse once the pasture grass is 4″ or less; in practice few of us have enough turnout to do that, but if you can designate a sacrifice area, it will keep your grassy part healthy.