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Orchard vs. Timothy Hay
Posted by Karen Petty at 2008-05-13 00:34:35
Are either of these grass hays higher in sugar than the other? is it detrimental to feed Orchard grass?
Response by Beth Valentine, DVM, PhD at 2008-05-13 10:45:09
Without an analysis for starch and sugar you can't be sure, but I have not run into problems with most EPSM horses when it comes to either grass (including orchard grass) or alfalfa hay. It is only the grain hays, such as oat and barley, that have been a problem because they are always higher in starch and sugar. For very sugar sensitive horses, such as those with laminitis, soaking hay in water for about 30 minutes before feeding will dissolve out sugar and make the hay even lower in sugar content.
Response by Tina at 2008-05-14 13:01:33
I did have a big problem with orchard grass hay. Where I used to board they got in a load of hay so beautiful, it just about turned back into grass when it got wet! Tink LOVED it and snarfed it right up but could not tolerate it and got very stiff and sore. I switched her over to timothy and have never had a problem with hay since. Where I board now they feed what they claim is orchard grass but it's very fine stems with seeds and few leaves, and Tink has been okay with it; however the new load is very soft and leafy so we'll see if she has a problem.
Response by Tina at 2008-05-26 16:36:17
And here it is a week and a half later and Tink is so stiff and sore she can barely move out of her own way. Hay is scarce and obscenely expensive around here, so I'm hoping the barn owner will agree to try soaking the hay she has to see if it helps.

It never ends with this horse. It's pathetic to watch her struggle and frustrating and not at all fun for me either. Standing around doesn't help her but riding her seems cruel--but I do it anyway because she needs exercise. And it feels wrong every step. Every pokey, hesitant step. I would NEVER take on a known EPSM horse again. But back to Karen's original question, my experience with timothy has been much better than with orchard grass, for what it's worth.
Response by Beth Valentine, DVM, PhD at 2008-05-27 12:16:58
Unfortunately, Tink has proven to be one of the more sensitive EPSM horses to work with. Definitely soak the hay, and at least get her out at the walk whenever possible. As always, good luck with getting her back on track.

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