Mystery of the vanishing grass
At last we’ve had some rain and now it feels like summer, and though our track is still bare the grass in the central reservation has sprouted massively, so its clearly being consumed as fast as it grows.
People are often surprised to find their horse gaining weight and showing signs of footiness on an apparently bare field, but when you look at their feeding habits you can appreciate how much they may be hoovering up. Horses spend approximately 70% of their time eating and not surprisingly eat faster if they are hungry. Intake is often quoted as around 1kg of dry matter per hour, but a recent study found subjects consuming 5% of their bodyweight in dry matter each day! So clearly there’s scope to remove a great deal of vegetation leaving no extra greenery to alert the owner.
Partitioning off even a tiny area helps you monitor growth, this works best if it can be moved because mature grass grows more slowly and won’t remain a good measure of the rest of the field. Looser greener droppings are also a sign of suddenly increased intake, especially in spring when moisture content is higher. The most important indicator though is the horse because individuals vary in their sensitivity.