When Can My Foundered Horse Eat Grass Again? (Important Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 09/14/22 •  5 min read

As a general rule of thumb……

An average horse on pasture 24 hours a day will graze for about 16 hours, meaning that they can consume 16-32 lb (7-15 kg) of pasture.

Yes, grazing is the most natural thing for the horse.

And when a foundered horse has to stare at the green view sitting alone, it’s obviously the most frustrating feeling for the horse.

As a horse owner, you realize you can keep him away from grazing, and maybe there are tons of questions spinning to your head like….

Sounds familiar? Well, this article is just designed for you.

When Can My Foundered Horse Eat Grass Again

When should I turn my Laminitic horse out?

Well, once your horse’s WSC (Water Soluble Carbohydrates) and insulin dysregulation return to a normal state after rest and treatment, you can consider reintroducing him to the grass. 

Early morning is the best time to let your horse graze as overnight grass uses stores of WSC, which is low in sugar. It is recommended to avoid grazing land conditions for horses prone to laminitis where there is lots of light.

And the worst time of year for laminitis?

The straight answer is – Spring.


The wetter weather allows for the formation of mud and slush on the ground, which can lead to inflammation and even infection in horses’ hooves. Additionally, cold temperatures can cause muscle spasms in the feet, which can further aggravate laminitis.

But what is the founder of horses, and how long should horses be kept off the grass?

Also known as laminitis, the founder is a hoof condition in horses.

Though it mostly happens to older horses, there are a bunch of factors that cause Founder in Horses. When a horse suffers this, the laminae( a structure attached to the hoof) become inflamed, which causes a problem in blood supply.

When the laminae are fully damaged, a horse is not likely to carry the weight of his body on the hoof.

Certain horses breed (Ponies, Morgan’s, and draft) are more prone to this medical condition. Spring is considered the worst time for laminitis, but it can happen any season of the year.

How long does it take for a foundered horse to recover?

Usually, it takes 6 to 8 weeks for horses to recover from the owner. So it’s safe to reintroduce the hay and grass after that period if the vet approves it.

See also: Horses are social animals that communicate by touching, nuzzling, and biting. Find out the top 7 reasons why horses bite each other’s necks.

But what’s the problem with grass for the foundered horse?

The good part of grass is – high in fiber.

And the bad part?

They can be difficult for the horse to digest.

But that’s not the only problem, actually. Not only fiber, grass is also a great source of sugar. When your horse is grazing too much grass, it will cause weight gain.

And as you already know, obesity is the trigger of laminitis.

Make sense now?

The sugar in grass actually messed up the WSC (water soluble carbohydrates). Hence, The high fiber content can cause constipation and other digestive problems, leading to further health problems. In addition, grass can contain toxins that can aggravate the horse’s condition.

Related: Can horses have sweet cherries?

How do you introduce a horse to grass after laminitis?

Reintroducing a horse to grass after laminitis can be a bold step, but it can be done successfully with the right approach. 

Grass should be introduced gradually over several days or weeks, starting with a small area that the horse barely touches. 

Patience is the key here.

The area should then gradually increase until the horse is eating and grazing on the grass fully. There should also be frequent opportunities for the horse to roam around on pasture slowly, allowing it to exercise and stretch its legs.

But keep an eye on your horse and see how they respond to it. Contact the vet immediately if you notice any discomfort or any major issue.

Related: Can Horses Eat Gummy Bears? What Happens?

What is the difference between laminitis and founder?

Laminitis is a condition caused by inflammation of the laminae or a thin sheet of tissue covering the hoof floor. It is a hoof disease that results in inflammation of the Laminar Band’s lateral layer (the hoof’s tough outer sheath). This condition can be acute or chronic and is most commonly observed in horses over age six. And results in lameness, poor weight-bearing ability, and decreased milk production.

And the founder is the critical version of laminitis.

Founder results when an underlying structural problem with a horse’s foot allows liquid to accumulate within the hoof. This accumulation can cause separation of the epidermis from the underlying coffin bone, leading to weakness, lameness, and even death.

Laminitis is diagnosed by examining the hoof for signs of inflammation and by performing a digital radiograph to look for evidence of abnormal bone growth.

Related: Are pickles toxic to horses? Reveal the researchers’ report

Final words…….

When your horse suffers from laminitis, the first step is ensuring its well-being. The horse needs proper nutrition, rest, and exercise to help them heal and rehabilitate.

Once your horse has been assessed and treated as necessary by a veterinarian, the next step is introducing them gradually to grass. It would be best if you started by providing small amounts of grass in a nearby paddock or area and then gradually increase the amount until they are eating it on their own.

Ensure they have plenty of water available at all times, as dehydration can be very harmful during this time.

And again saying this…….

If you notice any signs of stress or anxiety, such as refusing to feed or being restless, take your horse back to the vet for further evaluation.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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