Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: I’ve heard conflicting recommendations on when to start grazing my horses in the spring due to laminitis and other concerns. What would you recommend?

By Dr. Krishona Martinson, University of Minnesota equine specialist

Spring grazing should be introduced slowly and delayed until grasses reach 6 to 8 inches in height to optimize both the health of the horse and pasture. The calendar date is not important as weather conditions and grass growth can vary greatly from year to year.

When pasture grasses reach a height of 6 to 8 inches, begin grazing for 15 minutes, increasing the grazing time each day by 15 minutes until 4 to 5 hours of consecutive grazing is reached. After that, unrestricted or continuous grazing can resume.

Feed normal amounts of hay to your horses before turning them out to pasture the first few times. This strategy should help avoid rapid intake of pasture grasses.

Even though hay and pasture are both forages, there are significant differences. A gradual change from one feedstuff to another provides enough time for the microbial populations to adjust, reducing the chance of colic and laminitis.

Dr. Krishona Martinson is an extension equine specialist the University of Minnesota and raises, breeds, and trains Foundation Quarter Horses.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.

Click here to read Part 2 of the April 15, 2017 installment: I’m confused by all of the pros and cons I hear about including various vitamins and minerals in the diet of my three horses to improve their immune systems. How do I keep it all straight?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.