Sunday, April 01, 2007

Graze me

Last week I was able to ride Kaswyn at the trot. He still feels really good and is sound. He's a little unbalanced in the corners, but that doesn't really surprise me given how much time he's had off. He's had some filling in both of his front legs, but no heat in either one. The weather has been changing around here - a lot of the temperature going up and down - which I suppose could cause some fluid retention. I'm a little concerned about it, but it seems to go away after riding him, which is a good sign that it's just random adema.

Because it's spring, I've been taking Kaswyn outside to hand graze him after our rides so his system can get used to eating grass again after not getting any all winter. Now, this is something I hadn't heard of before I came to Ohio. In California I never rode at a barn that had grass pastures. There might have been large turnout paddocks, but in the summer these were usually baked hard and dry by the sun and had no grass in them. Maybe in the winter (the rainy months) some grass would spring up around the outsides of the paddocks, but there were no lush pastures of green beautiful grass like there are here. The last place we had our horses had individual paddocks for each stall. Sure, they were small, but every horse could walk in and out of the stall whenever they wanted. It's really nice for them to have that freedom.

Anyhow, the first spring that I had a horse in Ohio I was surprised to hear the barn owner say that the horses would only get 20 minutes out in the pastures. I just figured that when the pastures dried out that the horses would go out all day. Apparently they can get loose manure, colic, or even founder on the rich grass if they get too much without slowly getting used to it. So every spring starts with the ritual of taking Kaswyn out on a halter and letting him eat grass in small increments until he's built up to 30 or 45 minutes. Then all the horses will get short turnout time on the pastures until they are built up to a few hours. It all seems like such a pain in the ass, but when your snow-covered pastures freeze solid in the winter, what choice do you have?

There was no hand grazing yesterday, since Craig has been taking care of his mom and hasn't been home. And although I'll get out to ride today, there will be no hand grazing because it's raining. I shouldn't complain, because rain is better than snow. And without the rain we'd be stuck with dry hard pastures instead of beautiful green grassy ones.

I guess there are some good things about Ohio. It's hard to remember that when there's 3 feet of snow on the ground and it's been below 20 degrees for a week!


janice said...

That spring grass green is my favorite color!

learninghorses said...

Same thing out here is Western Oregon. Green lush grass starts to spring up everywhere and is a colic nightmare. So, we do the same thing and have dry paddocks for the horses who more to the barn. But it sure does cut down on my hay bill when they are grazing!

Rising Rainbow said...

We have the same thing here is western Washington. Build them up slowly or deal with the consequences. Lots of bad colics in the spring for people who aren't savy.

My 17 yo gelding has never taken a lame step not even when he had the EPM, knock on wood. Not sure why some horses are different than others, but with mine I think part of it is genetics.

I hope Kaswayn continues to be sound for you and that you make it to Nationals this year.

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