It's no new knowledge that Laminitis stems from an unsuitable diet. However, there are other ways outside of this common condition that show in your horse when they are grass affected.
When a new horse first arrives with us, they go through a detoxing stage. As we're grass free at PB, our horses are on a diet of adlib meadow hay and if bucket feed is required, a very low sugar, high fibre feed with no nasties or fillers. This results in about 6 weeks of detoxing off any unnecessary sugars aka. grass.
As many of you know, Dennis is our little Shetland and a firm favourite on this page. Whilst Dennis doesn't suffer from a history of Laminitis (as far as we can tell), he becomes grass affected should he have access to any grass. Now Dennis is quite an anxious pony at the best of times and has his favourite humans among the PB team that work with him on this. When he first arrived, I'll be honest and admit we weren't properly prepared for just how good of an escape artist he really is. Whilst we thought we were up to scratch with our original mastermind Dubri, Dennis was a whole different board game. Upon finding this all out, Dennis escaped a few times within the first year (thankfully, just him) and every time we noticed a pattern. Whilst Dennis has always been a bit on edge when it comes to certain things, Dennis on grass and the after math of said grass was drastically different.
Once Dennis had access to grass for however long, handling him in any shape or form was virtually impossible. There comes a point after a 'great escape' that feeding him, walking past him, catching him on a headcollar, grooming him, operating farming machinery or driving a car (nowhere near him may I add) and even other horses sneezing became this terrifying thing to Dennis that he would then dramatically spook at repeatedly. This wasn't something that lasted a day or two, or even a week - this would carry on for over a month until he'd been off the grass long enough that he had detoxed off all the sugar.
So, while Dennis may not have Laminitis as the result of stuffing his face with grass, he is still a grass affected pony which leads me onto Janie. Janie is another one of our own horses, who was rescued at a very young age from the slaughter house. Whilst Janie is a traditional cob, she again displays her grass affected symptoms in a different way but before I continue, I think it's important to add that I'm not saying Janie or Dennis would never get Laminitis if on the wrong diet.
Before we were a completely non grass Paddock Paradise, we used to have small patches of grass throughout the two larger tracks. Again, we identified a pattern in Janie's behaviour when she started to head shake throughout the day and twitched with every movement. Whilst she always remained easy to handle, the head shaking became more and more constant - on and off the headcollar. It wasn't until we managed to get rid of all the grass on the larger tracks that we ever noticed a difference. Interestingly, these symptoms were also triggered by fertilising the neighbouring agricultural land.
It's important to know the signs of a grass affected horse outside of what's consider more common in the equine world.