In a nutshell - DON'T DO IT!!!
Never apply commercial fertilisers: NO Super, NO Nitrogen, NO NPK, NO urea and NO potash.
They will all cause the grass to be even more unsuitable for your horses.
You can apply Lime or Dolomite of the pasture needs it but you will run into big problems with the horses if you apply the commercial fertilisers!
PIC: Persil wakes up from a snooze in a bed of mature unfertilized perfect horse grass.
Think Twice Before Fertilising!
This is a classic example of what can happen when you take advice from someone who comes from a farming perspective rather than a horse perspective. It is what can happen when you apply some of these ‘lifestyle block’ fertilisers.
Here is the paddock before fertilser was applied...
This is actually good healthy pasture with a good mix of great grasses.
The motivation to fertilise part of this property was to increase the volume of the hay crop. On advice from a farming Rep, ‘Nutrigro’ was applied to the hay paddock. You can see the result (the photo above was exactly the same land which wasn’t fertilised).
After - fertilser has rendered this paddock completely unuseable for horses. The clover has grown through at a rampant rate.
The addition of Nutrigro (which by the way also contains selenium) boosted the growth of clover to the point it has become prevalent over the grass – the very thing we don’t want!
The trouble is, now these people will have to sell this hay and buy in hay that will be more suitable for her already laminitic prone horses. A considerable hassle with clover free hay being in short supply!
If we had known earlier, it would have been possible to use a broadleaf spray to eliminate the clover and then this hay would have been 100% grass and therefore not such a problem.
Clover is not part of any horse’s natural diet and will cause your horse no end of trouble from laminitis to head-shaking, not to mention reproductive problems! We can’t stress it enough, horses need grass not legumes and it needs to comprise low nutrient density fodder. (IE: Rough, high fibre hay made from grasses growing on UNFERTILE ground)
*Be very careful about fertilisers that contain selenium – too much selenium in the diet is as dangerous as too little. Adding selenium to the soil means you never know how much the horse is actually getting – it starts out with plenty and it dwindles over time. This is why it is better to add it daily to feeds. Premium NZ Horse Minerals or MVA both contain the correct amounts of selenium so you don’t have to worry about your horse being deficient or getting too much.
Managing New Pasture
If you have already resown or are planning to renovate your pastures, here is some important information:
1. We very rarely advocate completely spraying out and resowing pasture – only do this if you have solid rye and clover. If there is a mixture of grasses with clover then, as per the last few posts, a broad-leaf spray is all that will be needed.
2. If you are resowing new grasses (check out our list of what to sow here )
It is very important to take into account what sort of horses you have and what their purpose is. In other words you may sow a different mix of horse-friendly grasses for Mum’s hack and the kid’s ponies to what you would if you were breeding sport or race horses. You will also have a slightly different mix according to your soil types, drainage and climate.
3. You need to factor in where to keep your horses over this whole process. Best not to expect to be able to graze this new grass for quite some time!
Starlight watches everyone from her dry lot.
Brand new grass (of any variety) is VERY potent and prone to mineral imbalances. You risk sudden onset of potentially serious metabolic problems until after you have done the following…
- Once the grass has established, you will need to either mow it or put some sheep over it (they are light and won’t trash it). The idea is to take the top off and cause the roots to strengthen up so that when horses do eventually graze it, they won’t pull it all out by the roots.
- Then take a cut of hay off it and WAIT until it has dried off before even thinking about grazing it.
4. Don’t be talked in to having fertilizer put in with the seeds! What the seeds need most is WATER.
A Sure-Fire way to create a Head-Flicking Horse!
Luckily this story has a happy ending for all 3 horses grazing this pasture. If you want your horse to start head-flicking find a paddock that looks like the one in the picture below!
In the meantime here is some great feedback from Kelly who has successfully reversed head-flicking in her competition horse by following our diet recommendations.
It reinforces the fact that one major cause of head-shaking/flicking is a bio-chemistry imbalance involving the ratios between major minerals; in this case caused by the clover-ridden pasture seen in the photo on the right.
Note that two other horses on the same pasture had also started head-flicking but came right when removed from that pasture and fed additional salt.
Kelly’s horse had become more severely affected and also needed the removal of the potassium rich feeds and changed to our GrazeEzy & SOS which are more appropriate for these issues than straight magnesium.
Knowing the trouble it can cause I would not be able to sleep at night if my horses were grazing such pasture!
There will be people who say that their horses are fine on pasture like that but actually NO thick, green carpet of clover is good for any horses in the long term and it puts their precious metabolism (various glands including the adrenals and the kidneys) under colossal stress to have to rectify it even though they may appear to be OK on the outside for a while.
Just wanted to let you know that thanks to your help and products I now have my calm healthy horse back!
She went from being so hyper sensitive and head flicking so bad she was unrideable and even unsafe to handle, to being great to ride and handle in any weather, even without a nose net!
She competed for the first time on the weekend and was very well behaved, placing 4th. I have also built up to 30 minutes on grass per day.
I have attached a picture of the fertilised paddock which I assume is what started all the issues - insane amounts of clover. The other two horses that were mildly flicking came right quickly after being taken out of that paddock and being fed extra salt. The other picture is her first competition since the diet change.
She was previously being fed lucerne and a soy based feed, as well as a high protein conditioning feed. Supplement-wise she had salt, liquid magnesium and a basic vitamin/mineral mix.
After talking to you I took her off grass, and gave her ample hay, beet, copra, and oaten chaff with Premium NZ Minerals, Graze Ezy, AlleviateC SOS (doubled at worst time) and salt. She is now grazing on the most mature grass possible, though there is still a lot of clover and rye, so I will tread very carefully!
Thank you very much!'