My pony has turned from a gentle, plod-along into a wild child! My normally totally bomb proof, chilled out 5 year old gelding has gone off the rails! Every time we go out at the moment, he is either really spooky looking at things that aren’t there, or things that he has seen dozens of times before, or he is jig-jogging along bubbling over with energy. His grass intake has increased with the new grass coming through, but I can’t believe this dramatic change in behaviour can be all down to Spring grass, can it?
You are not alone! This time of year sees many horse and ponies transform from their normal, predictable behaviour patterns into animals that their riders are struggling to recognise. Generally, this change is short lived if it is caused by the new Spring grass. If his grass intake has gone up as you suggest, it is most likely to be the effects of the extra grass and its sugars (and there’s a whole science book of info to be had about that!) that are giving him that extra, shall we say, spring in his step!
There are some things you can do to limit the effects of Spring grass though and try to calm your pony down a little:
- Consider reducing the amount of hard feed he gets – if he is getting extra grass now, he probably won’t need as much hard feed which will be giving him extra energy too.
- Gradually adjust from hay to pasture. It’s important to allow your horse to gradually adjust from eating a hay only diet to eating mostly pasture grass. Transition your horse over a period of time, not overnight
- Did you know that 1kg of grass can supply about 400g of sugar at this time of year, 1kg of hay will typically supply 100g of sugar? Limit the amount of time your pony has access to grass – remember we are coming into laminitis season so don’t leave him permanently on rich grass – you are asking for more trouble than just high spirits!
- If you are concerned when hacking, try lungeing him first before you go out, or, even simply school him in a safe, enclosed area. Try to hack out with someone else for safety.
Finally, if his high spirited behaviour persists beyond the next few weeks, then consider other factors such as his teeth, back and tack. Good luck – stay safe!