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Myth: “Don’t turn horses out in the snow or frost”

Truth: Has a scientific basis but problems are not very common

Registered nutritionist Teresa Hollands says: “From a nutrition point of view, if horses can’t get to the grass, the turnout is purely for exercise and it’s important to provide hay and unfrozen water.

“There is also anecdotal evidence to link eating frozen grass to laminitis. Grass needs water, sunlight, warmth and carbon dioxide. It uses these for photosynthesis to make sugar, which it uses as energy to grow.

“If it is cold, but all the other ingredients are present, grass can make sugar but it can’t use it up. It is therefore stored as fructans. If the horse eats this grass, it cannot digest fructans in the small intestine. It ends up in the hind gut, where it may contribute to laminitis.”

  • This formed part of a feature in Horse & Hound’s feeding special (13 October, ’05)