Q: Just purchased a 5yr. old
appaloosa. She's never grazed and I have 5 acres of nice green grass here. I've
been told different things about letting her out of pen. How much can I leave
her out, Can she founder ? She's healthy and built nice. Need some info on
foundering. Can you help me?
A: Congratulations on your new
five year old. Be careful about that nice green grass. Let me start out by
saying, read everything I have published on this web site on founder. Both in
the Q&As and in the articles. FOUNDER
is the second leading cause of death to horses.
There are some old horseman's beliefs such as that horses that are worked do not
founder, horses that are slim do not founder, horses that are fed balanced diets
do not founder, and so on. Keep these in mind but do not rely on them one
hundred percent. ANY horse can founder, given the right combination of
Any change in diet should be done gradually. The horse should not be allowed to
graze over a couple hours per day for the first week, not over 3 to 4 hours per
day for the second week, etc.
Your horse should be checked daily for a thickening and a hardening of the crest
of its neck. Should the neck thicken and harden, the horse should be gotten off
the grass immediately--not in a day of two, but IMMEDIATELY. A neck showing
these characteristics is a warning signal that this horse is about to founder;
that it cannot digest or absorb these high levels of proteins and carbohydrates.
Such high levels of protein and carbohydrates will cause physical trauma to your
Horses can develop laminitis and founder from any physical or emotional trauma,
not just from excessive green grass. However, grass founder is very common and
is easily preventable. Don't kill your horse with kindness just because that
nice green grass is beckoning.
Once again, be sure to read all my Q&As and Articles concerning laminitis
The American Blacksmith