Q: We are new horse owners and are currently keeping our horse at a friend’s barn down the road. We intend to bring her home soon, where most of the pasture we have fenced off is our lawn. While we have never used chemicals I am not sure what the grass may do to her. The horse is a 4-year-old Quarter Horse, and she still has a little growing left to do. What should I do to help prevent founder and colic on the grass? Is it safe to put her on the grass? We will have hay for her but I intended on free stalling her. Would a muzzle help?
Rob Lamarche, via e-mail
A: First of all, lawn grasses were not developed for their nutritional value and tend to have mineral imbalances. I would strongly urge you to get in touch with your local extension agent to find out the best pasture seed mixes to overseed the lawn in your area. However, this renovation should be done in September/October to allow the new seeds to establish during the winter.
If you want to bring your horse home before the pasture is re-established, I would suggest giving her limited access with a grazing muzzle for a couple hours a day (preferably in the morning). Provide free access to a good-quality grass/legume mix hay (legumes such as alfalfa or clover will provide the extra calcium that lawn grasses usually lack) in a drylot area the rest of the day with free access to water and a salt block. This should keep her healthy and happy for the summer. Next spring, after the grasses are growing well, limit her grazing initially, then gr