Late Summer Dew

There are signs of autumn everywhere, and I love it.?I’m also on the alert. When I go to the barn in the morning, I wear my rubber boots because the dew is too heavy for other footwear (I can deal with wet socks in the warm summer months), and I’ve been raking quite a few fallen leaves out of major horse walkways, like the barn entrance, for more than two weeks now. (I routinely clean up leaves, manure and other debris because keeping the area clean makes it dry out more quickly, which helps it not turn into a deep boggy mess.) Sally?s been losing her summer coat for several weeks now, and today I noticed that Paz is beginning to grow a winter coat. Kelsey’s a hold out, apparently, but since?she tends to sweat standing still if the thermometer reaches 80°,? I’don’t blame her for waiting. Night temperatures are getting noticeably lower and soon, I know, the grass will be covered with frost in the morning. Those cold temperatures cause the grass to increase its fructan production, meaning?it holds more sugar. None of our horses are really high-risk for insulin resistance, nor do they seem to be genetically prone to founder, but I monitor things carefully anyway because, well,?you never know. ?I know a lot of folks have been taken by surprise by fall laminitis.?I wait to let the horses out?after the sun has warmed the grass and the frost is gone. Fall laminitis isn?t really the gorging-on-young-grass?type of founder you might think of in spring.?In the fall, it’s more the higher levels of fructan, or sugar, that’s in the grass when it’s cold that’s the culprit. I learned decades ago, when I worked on Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky, not to let horses out when the grass was covered in frost. The reason wasn?t really clear?then. Some grooms said colic, and a few farm managers said founder. Even the veterinarians didn’t seem certain, but everyone agreed that turning horses out on frost-covered grass was risky.? Now, of course, reliable research has proven the problem is mainly the fructan, although?horses?have colicked?from frosty grass, too.? I’m just not willing to take the?chance.

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