My horse gains weight off of grass easily

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  • christina_3566 Original Poster christina_3566
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 0

    So I have an appendix mare. She is 12 years old and has PSSM and HYPP. I boarded her at a place where there was no grass so her diet was hay and grain and she stayed at a nice weight with an average diet. However, I moved her to my own facility where she had unlimited grass all day. She started to get overweight even though we trained alot for shows and fair. She had a body condition score of 8 during the summer. All she ate all summer was grass and a handful of grain twice a day. Now that we are in winter and she’s back on hay and grain, she has lost weight and is now normal. I just want to know if there are any other alternatives other than a grazing muzzle and if there are any PSSM/HYPP experts out there: is this a normal issue? Thanks!

    Topics Started: 9Replies Posted: 19

    I have the same problem and yet to find an answer

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Only other thing I can think of is to restrict her access to the grass.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I need the same help! My donkey is SO fat and all she gets is a small handful of grain. But, she is the “babysitter” in my horse pasture and I really can’t separate her. Plus, I would have to “round-up” the paddock in order to have a dry lot. I no longer muzzle her because 1. it did not seem to make any difference and 2. I found the muzzle hanging on the trailer hitch! Fortunately, it was on a break away so she was not hurt at all but it was a strong reminder that it is not really safe to keep a halter on your horse when the horse is turned out. (I don’t any anyway.) Should I just put the muzzle back on?

    Sarah KY
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Most grass has a lot of sugar in it, especially during spring and early summer. Muzzle or dry lot are your best options for keeping the weight off your horses. Just like in humans, if ‘calories in’ equals more than ‘calories out’, they will gain weight. And calories from sugar have added health side-effects. ALL of my equines (2 horses, 2 ponies) get muzzled during the day and put on a dry lot at night during spring and early summer. My older mare, with equine metabolic syndrome, is muzzled March-December. Just like with humans, there is no “magic diet pill.” I know it can be hard to muzzle them because it can make you feel guilty, but after putting a horse down due to severe founder, I’ve come to realize that I have to do what is best for the horse, not what makes me feel better. Good luck!

    Chris Chris
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 17

    Hi Christina,

    I recently had to euthanize a late-20’s Morgan mare who’d experienced years of strange neurological symptoms the vets thought was probably EPM, but she was never sick enough to test (everything else ruled out). Along with that she was morbidly obese year-around, but I did find a few things that helped significantly without taking her off pasture or muzzling.

    First make sure your horse is getting a quality source of minerals, as I think they can be sadly lacking or imbalanced. My favorite so far is Hiland’s Big Sky minerals ( and I fed an unusually large Morgan just 2 oz per day (half the recommended). Because of her age and neurological complications I really never had her tested for EMS or IR, but just decided to try the SmartControl IR pellets to see what would happen. Again some improvement but not drastic, but then I ordered the SmartPak Metabo-Lean and saw much better results. She remained overweight, but not morbidly obese and moved a whole lot better!

    According to the bare hoof trimming expert I trained with over a decade ago, limiting quality hay, grain and supplements when horses are on unlimited pasture can have “reverse” effects. In their need for whatever nutrient(s) are missing they over-eat to compensate–makes sense to me. I’d definitely try experimenting with her diet and you may find that more of something translates to less fat! Good luck and let us know how it goes…

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Keep her off grass during the day and only let her out at night. The sugar content during the day is higher than at night. She still needs some supplements.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Grain doesn’t have as much impact on weight as hay/grazing do. Grain is primarily for energy, unless you have a senior who really cannot eat hay or grass anymore, in which case you’d be giving a senior or complete feed plus hay cubes or pellets.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    We have several horses on the farm who tend toward Cushing’s and/or laminitis and can’t have a lot of grass. The horses live out 24/7. In the winter the grass is not an issue due to snow etc. They have hay feeders with hay nets 24/7 winter and summer. For the warmer months, the farm owner has created two of the pastures to be modified dry lots. There is an outer track around each that the horses always have access to, and the inner portion is fenced off with t posts and electric fence with gates at various positions so that the horses can be let into or kept out of the grass area as needed. It has been working well for several years. Grazing muzzles are not needed, the horses can have some grass, they have hay so they don’t go hungry. The hay feeders are covered and resemble vegetable stands. They can hold the large square or round bales. The skinny horses can have free access, the chubby ones have the bales in a net with square holes that require them to work at getting the hay. It doesn’t get wet or dirty, and it keeps it off the ground being pooped on or slept in.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I have had a horse with multiple issues very much like what you have. I have found medical research and veterinarian help invaluable. I am sharing in the hopes that it may help you, the following two articles that discuss PSSM and HYPP and what is needed to manage them dietwise. I hope this helps.

    riding for Christ riding for Christ
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 118

    Putting her in a dry lot at night would be the best thing because grass has a high sugar content at that time.
    Yes, leaving a muzzle or a halter on a horse while it is turned out is very dangerous, it can cause death. I have heard some horrible stories!!

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