What Are The Hidden Dangers of Lush Spring Grass for Horses?

Zeolite for horses

The spring is at last getting into full swing, and the warmer temperatures and longer days mean that the grass is getting greener and lusher. After a long wet winter battling with poached and bare pastures, this can be a welcome relief for horse owners. 

However, before turning your horse out for some serious spring grazing, it’s important to be aware of the hidden health hazards of rich grass. Here are some dangers to be vigilant for.


One of the most serious risks of lush spring pastures for horses and other equines is laminitis. New grass has a particularly high sugar content, and is high in water soluble carbohydrates (WSC). This is a mixture of simple sugars and fructan, and a sudden intake at this time of year can trigger an attack of laminitis.

This is a painful condition where the tissues that bond the hoof wall to the pedal bone in the horse's foot become inflamed. It commonly occurs after a WSC overload, and it can also occur in septic animals. 

Signs of laminitis include a reluctance to walk forwards, shifting weight from one foot to another; lameness or uneven paces; difficulty making turns; and excessive heat in the feet. It can become particularly dangerous if the horse is unable to bear weight on one foot, because it places excessive strain on the other.

Weight gain

Horses and ponies can consume as much as five per cent of their bodyweight per day when grazing, and spring grass is high in calories. This can lead to rapid weight gain, storing up future health problems and putting extra strain on their limbs. 

Digestive disturbances

Lush spring grass that is high in fructan can upset your horses’ digestive system, because they cannot absorb it easily in the small intestine. If too much fructan enters the large intestine, it can rapidly ferment and produce lactic acid, which can potentially cause colic. 

Nitrate poisoning

In fertilised pastures, the grass may contain excessive levels of nitrate. This can interfere with the ability of the blood to carry oxygen around the body, and may cause symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, increased heart rate, and it can even be fatal.

How you can help your horse in spring

Limit your horses’ turnout in spring to a few hours in the morning or evening, when the grass is less rich from sunlight. If they are prone to laminitis, consider a grazing muzzle or a bare pasture turnout. 

How dietary supplements can help 

Zeolite for horses is a clay supplement that has a natural detoxing effect on the digestive system. It is made from volcanic mineral ash, and it has naturally absorbent properties that can help it to remove heavy metals and toxins found in lush grass from the intestines. It can also support the absorption of nutrients from feeds and supplements. 

The mineral clay supplement has also been noted for improving the quality of the coat and general wellbeing of the horse.