Ah, springtime. Can’t you just see those rolling green pastures of Kentucky’s Bluegrass, dotted with grazing bloodstock? Their fetlocks are buried, the grass is lush, the dew’s shining on each strand of grass and…Why are you shuddering? Do you, like so many horse owners who have endured the helpless misery of a foundered pony or horse, equate lush meadows with laminitis, ouchy feet, and reprimands from your veterinarian and farrier? ("You’re killing this horse with kindness!")

The horse owner’s worst fear: finding a horse "stuck" in the classic foundered position in a pasture.

Photo: Helmuth Daller/Hoofcare & Lameness Photo

Lush pasture is the arch enemy of horses susceptible to laminitis and founder. Yet few horse owners can resist the kindness of turning horses out in green meadows, and do so with the best intentions. Horses most at risk include ponies and any horse already overweight or suffering from a condition like Cushing’s syndrome.

Some horse owners learn about "grass founder" the hard way, by first-hand experience. Some own hardy horses which seem resistant to the damaging effects of lush pasture, and never know what it is like to see a horse shifting from one front foot to the other, or extending both front feet while hitching the hind ones up under his belly to get weight off the forefeet. The forefeet might be warmer than normal to touch, there might be a bounding pulse in the pastern…or there cou