Autumn flush grass and your horse behaviour and gut

Autumn Flush Grass and your Horse

Hi team, how is your grass doing?

Im betting many of you that have had all the rain this last week have seen an massive change from brown to green in you new grass growth?

If you have this happening in your horses’ paddocks guess what else is happening? Got some unwanted silly horse behaviour happening?

So what exactly is happening inside your horse?

Well right now they grass has gone from feeling stressed with the continual heat and no moisture to throwing a party at the wet humid conditions and throwing everything it can into growing and turning on all its photosynthesis into making sugars.

The formerly stressed grass holds onto these sugars for dear life and guess who gets to eat them? Yup your lucky normally sane little unicorn.

Next this high sugar hits your horses foregut, the foregut yells ‘ I cant cope” and it is rushes this sugar thru really really fast compared to the old high fibre low sugar boring slow grass from last week.

This high sugar stuff hits the hind gut super quickly.

In here the normally stable ph levels drop too quickly and conditions change too fast upsetting all balance. This condition of the microbiome in the gut of the horse then has effects on things like behaviour.

Why? because trough the “gut-brain axis” it appears that the microbes in the gut are in communication with the brain.

Think of the hindgut as a a playground of microbes on a soft ball team. When it has that long term feed of high fibre the teams playing are all in blue (all steady slow league fibre fermenters).

The high sugar rushed in and the blue team finds it doesn’t have enough players to cope and has to sub on a new team of red players. These guys hit hard and fast and are angry!

The whole playground dissolves into a brawl! Ok so I may have gone overboard on the analogy but you get the jist right?

Too much high sugar makes for one unhappy gut an one upset horse and humans asking where did my lovely pony gallop off to??

So what to do? Add more fibre, chaff, hay, old pasture (anything very low sugar).

Please see previous blog on website for your sugar and NSC terms and values. Strip graze, exercise more. Add fats instead of grain for energy. Add probiotics to the diet.

Get your diet balanced by an equine nutritionist NOW. An unbalanced diet in all your horses vitamins and minerals will exacerbate all the problems.

For more information see:…/fructans-fibre-sugar-nsc-what…/…/2020/05/27/mycotoxin-binders/…/new-spring-and-autumn-grass…/

Dale Logan

BSc, Post Grad Dip, Equine Nutrition, Massey University.

Equine Nutrition Advanced Uni of Guelph, Cert Equine Herbal Medicine, Cert NZ Animal Welfare Legislation