Grass Cuttings Cause Danger to Moorland Ponies Warn Equine Charity, The Mare and Foal Sanctuary
South West equine welfare charity, The Mare and Foal Sanctuary, is calling on people to stop leaving grass cutting treats for moorland ponies, as it puts their health at significant risk.
Piles of freshly mown grass cuttings, which are regularly dumped on the moorland pose a significant risk to equine health.
“This ‘goodwill gesture’ causes more harm than good…” warns the charity.
The grass cuttings begin fermenting almost as soon as they are cut and the ponies will gorge on them as they are so palatable, causing a build-up of gas in the pony’s stomach.
As ponies have a one-way stomach valve, they are unable to vomit or even burp to relieve the pressure. The gases given off by the fermenting cuttings can expand to the point where they rupture the stomach, causing an agonising death.
The clippings can also cause serious colic due to complications further down the intestinal tract.
The rule of thumb should be not to feed grass clippings to any horse or pony, no matter what the breed.
Poisonous Plants in the Cuttings
Ponies are also very good at avoiding poisonous plants, but cannot detect them – or any garden chemicals – mixed in with the more palatable grass in discarded cuttings. Popular garden shrubs like Rhododendrons and privet hedging are also highly toxic to equines.
The charity’s Welfare Officer, Becky Treeby, says:
It seems like a good way to give the ponies a treat, but people could be unintentionally causing considerable harm.
Our moorland ponies have adapted to survive on very little and with the arrival of spring they’ll soon have more than enough grazing to live on.”
If you are concerned about the welfare of a horse or pony on the region’s moors, contact the charity’s welfare officer, Becky Treeby, on 07717 311251.
To find out more about the work of the Mare and Foal Sanctuary across the South West, which relies entirely on donations and legacy gifts, and to see the horses and ponies currently available for rehoming, visit the charity’s website at www.mareandfoal.org or call 01626 355969.