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Grazing without the Grass


Your horse was designed to spend his days roaming and grazing, thriving on the nutrients found in fresh grass. The benefits of constant grazing are plentiful, but acres of fresh pasture can be hard to come by, especially in the winter. Luckily, there are ways that you can help your horse get the benefits of grazing even when your fields are barren.

Digestive Health

Your horse’s digestive system evolved to rely on a slow, steady intake of complex carbohydrates, like grasses. If he isn’t constantly grazing, his risk for ulcers and colic increases (learn more at If your horse can’t have access to fresh pasture due to geographic limitations or health conditions, at least make sure you’re providing plenty of quality hay throughout the day (free choice is ideal, but be sure to check with your veterinarian). We recommend a “slow feed” hay bag or net like the SmartPak Slow Feed Hay Bag.

SmartPak Slow Feed Hay Bag

(125 reviews)

Joint & Hoof Health

The constant mobility that comes with grazing is beneficial for both your horse’s joint health and his hoof circulation (learn more at If you can’t provide acres of turnout in the winter due to inclement weather, try to make sure your horse is getting as much exercise as possible, whether it’s handwalking, turnout in the indoor, or a few extra hacks a week from a friend.


Fresh pasture and hay are both forages, but they’re not created equal. Grass contains key nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E, but those nutrients are reduced when it is cut, dried, and stored as hay. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to your horse’s well-being because they help support cellular health and a normal response to inflammation. If your horse doesn’t graze on fresh pasture year-round, consider supplementing with SmartOmega 3 & E Ultra. This formula provides omega 3 fatty acids from flax seed, fish oil, and chia seed, as well as vitamins A and E.

SmartOmega 3 & E™ Ultra

As Low As: $19.95
(35 reviews)

Reasons to Feed Omega 3s

  • Limited access to fresh pasture
  • Inflammatory health conditions
  • High-grain diets
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12 comments on “Grazing without the Grass
  1. Anne BREAULT says:

    I have a tough situation. 1 horse that had ulcers and easy keeper, a horse that has laminitis and it syndrome and can’t eat grass. So the ulcer horse is on your ulcer support magnesium and joint supports. The laminitis horse is on your it product and your vitamin supplement. My ulcer horse has grass for about an hour a day but the other cannot. They are both fed a grass hay x per day and equi pro supplement and speedi beat. Is there anything else I should consider without over doing it?

    • Anne BREAULT says:

      That’s IR syndrome and 4 x per day of hay.

      • SmartPak SmartPak says:

        Hi Anne, first of all I commend your efforts at managing two tricky situations with your horses! It sounds like you’re doing a great job, and if your horses are in good weight and their conditions are under control, it sounds like you may have found some good strategies that work for them. Some other general management strategies for easy keepers you could consider are the use of grazing muzzles, small hole hay nets to extend how long they have forage in front of them, or even soaking hay to help remove excess sugars. Where neither of your horses are getting much pasture, which makes absolute perfect sense for easy keepers, you could consider a supplement to provide additional omega 3’s like SmartOmega 3 SmartOmega 3 Ultra. – SmartPaker Casey

  2. Megan Roberts says:

    Both horses should be fed grass hay free choice. I also have one mare with Cushings and laminitis, and one with ulcers. Both of my horses are on a low carb diet grain (Triple Crown Lite), and free choice grass mix hay. At night the Cushings mare has a slow feed hay bag in her stall. The ulcer mare gets an antacid supplement, and an omega fatty acid supplement. The Cushings mare gets a supplement for IR horses, and a fatty acid supplement as well. I make sure to work my Cushings mare at least 4 times per week, and try for 6. I have only dry lot paddocks, so don’t have to worry about grass, but you could get them both grazing muzzles to lilmit the amoutn of grass they get. Maximum turnout is very important for horses with both of these conditions. My horses get at least 14 hours turnout a day, and I split their grain meals into 3 feedings per day.

  3. erica says:

    I agree with a grazing muzzle. With the muzzle you can extend your pasture turn out with out overeating. This will keep a steady stream of food coming in small amounts and keep the horse moving as well. good luck!

  4. Karen Boates says:

    I have managed horses with Cushings and metabolic syndrome for years. Please be aware that many feeds labeled “lite” or “low starch” or “safe starch” may still have too many nonstructural carbs for these horses. Triple Crown “Low Starch Feed”, for example, has 13% carbs which is too much for a metabolic horse. Their “Lite” formula is much safer with only 9% carbs. Cushings and metabolic horses usually need to be below 10% carbs. Since the carb content of feeds is usually not given on the bag, you should always contact the manufacturer to get this information before you try any new feed, even if the feed is named “Low Starch” or “Safe Starch”.

    Also, if you are medicating your horse with pergolide and it’s not controlling the laminitis well enough, or it’s suppressing their appetite too much, consider adding or switching to Trilostane (a different type of pituitary suppressant).

  5. JG says:

    I also agree with the grazing muzzle. For the horse that right now can’t be turned out at all: I know that they make muzzles that allow no grass at all but do allow water which might work well for him. For the other one: I think the slow feeding muzzle is a really good idea. That way you can let them be out for much longer than you can now.

  6. Judie Ruvido says:

    Can i keep my horse healthy without grass? if so, what do you suggest i give him to supplement.

  7. Judie Ruvido says:

    I moved my horse to a stable that does not have an area to graze. C an i keep my horse healthy without grass? If so what do you suggest i supplement him with?

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Judie,

      Thank you for your question! We understand that fresh pasture can be hard to come by! Adding a supplement like SmartOmega 3 Ultra may be helpful to provide some of the nutrients, like omega 3s, and vitamins A and E, that your horse would receive from fresh grass. Splitting up your horse’s feed into as many small meals a day and using a slow feed hay bag or net may also be helpful to imitate grazing as much as possible. We’d suggest working closely with your veterinarian to come up with the best nutrition program for your individual horse.

      – SmartPaker Carolyn

  8. Renee Timms says:

    I have a 10 yr old mare who digs constantly and laminitis vet has her on a no grain just hay diet..Is there something I can give her to help ward off laminitis she is also overweight.

  9. Gloria says:

    My friend is considering renting a yard to keep her horse but there is no grass for them on the land it’s just hard surface is this possible

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