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ALL EQUINES ARE PRONE TO LAMINITIS

Wed Feb 20

There are only two kinds of horses.... those that have laminitis and those that could someday get it!

So what is laminitis and how do horses get it?
Put simply, laminits is the inflamation of the sensitive laminar corium in the hoof, causing a breakdown of the bond between the hoof wall and the coffin bone.
Severe cases are commonly known as founder and major causes are by eating sugar rich grasses, but it can also be caused by concussion of the hooves on hard surfaces, over-eating grain, infection from retaining afterbirth, excessive weight bearing on one leg, stress, vaccinations and medications.
There are many good texts giving much greater detail on the causes and treatments, so if you own a horse, you should be aware of how this condition occurs and how to keep your horse from suffering it.
One such book with an excellent chapter on laminitis is The Sound Hoof - Horse Health from the Ground up by Lisa Simons Lancaster (read a full review). You can purchase this book from www.tallgrasspublishers.com.
This book lists the early clinical signs of laminitis as:
  • Reluctance to move freely (especially on hard/rough surfaces).
  • Blood stains visible in the white line or hoof wall.
  • Pulse and respiration may be elevated due to pain.
  • When moving, prefers to canter rather than trot if given a choice.
  • Feet are off balance - may have long toes, high heels or both.
  • Moves forward soundly but takes slightly shorter than normal strides.
  • Sound on soft terrain but may limp or stumble on hard or rocky ground.
  • Sole bruising and a stretched white line (in some horses, by the time you see this they have been compromised for quite some time).

    Photo:
    If your horse's hooves have numerous stress rings like this one, it probably indicates repeated episodes of sub clinical laminitis.

    Late clinical signs: (Founder)
  • Lies down a lot
  • Standing but will not move
  • Bounding digital pulse
  • Sole hot to the touch
  • White line stretched
  • Will not allow you to pick up a foot
  • Stops eating
  • Sole bruise in the shape of a coffin bone
  • Shifting weigh tfrom foot to foot (swaying side to side).
  • Standing with front legs stretched out, back arched, trying to lean back to get weight off toes.
  • When asked to turn in a tight area like a stall or narrow barn aisle the horse rocks backwards onto haunches, lifts head up and lurches around because it hurts to turn the feet.

    Usually several of these signs will appear together or appear over the course of a few days.
    All of the signs need to be evaluated in context. No single indicator would be diagnostic for laminitis.
If you suspect your horse has laminitis or founder then do your research, ask many opinions from varied sources (natural hoof care practitioners, vets, farriers) and comminicate with others who have successfully rehabilitated a founderd horse or pony.
Then DO someting about it - just hoping that early signs will go away is leading to a severe case which is more painful for your horse and your pocket!
Better still, assess your horse's sitation before it occurs;
  • Do you have hooves trimmed regularly? (ie: every 4 weeks - not 8, 10 or 12) to maintain good hoof balance and health.
  • What is the diet? Grains, lucernes, rich grass or a fresh flush of grass all cause laminitic attacks.
  • What stresses does your horse endure? Travelling, competing, over training, illness, vaccinations, de-worming and medicating can all be triggers for laminitis.
Because laminitis is a "whole horse disorder" a holistic approach works well to identify and correct the root cause.
Be especially vigilant as spring grasses are starting to emerge. Restrict access to grass during the later part of the day and at night, and keep feeding plenty of hay so your horse doesn't feel the need to gorge on toxic grass.

For more detailed information on Laminitis and Founder go to articles at www.safergrass.org and www.naturalhorsetrim.com

An in-depth presentation on laminitis can be found here on the BarefootHoofsmith.com

More Excellent advice and articles can be found if you click here to read
Carola Adolf's articles on Laminits.

FABULOUS ONLINE VIDEOS ALL HORSE OWNERS NEED TO SEE – learn more about the dangers of over-feeding your horse and how to tell if they are overweight. Click this link to Fran Jurga’s Hoofblog to read more about how we inadvertently overfeed our horses and cases of laminitis are rising as a consequence – the videos are each about 7-9 minutes long.
http://hoofcare.blogspot.com/2008/12/favorite-video-horse-owners-should.html


LAMINITIS RECOVERY

Amazing Founder Rehabilitation through hoof trimming and wholistic care.
Most vets and horse owners consider a severe case of laminitis to be a death sentence. Some think it’s too much hard work and expense for them and too much pain for the horse or pony to endure. But why should we give up on those wonderful creatures who have given us so much? Previously it was thought that a foundered pony or horse couldn’t ever return to soundness and therefore usefulness – I was one of them. Since meeting Glynn and being involved in his rehabilitation, I’ve discovered otherwise.
With a good natural hoof trim on a regular basis and changes to a more natural diet free of rich grasses, a horse can grow a whole new hoof (or 4). This re-aligns the pedal bone and the horse becomes sound and able to perform again. In the process the owner learns how to care for the horse so laminitis doesn’t re-occur. Everyone is a winner!

Here is the story of Glynn and his recovery.
Glynn is a 22 year old Welsh Section A stallion and was a show ring champion in NSW in his younger days.
His move to Tasmania last year onto richer grass, and in-frequent hoof care caused laminitis which was so severe that most vets would have recommended euthanasia.
All four pedal bones had rotated through his soles causing open wounds and extreme lameness.

 

Glynn's founder stance prior to the first trim.

Cynthia was called for advice in February 2005 and fortunately, respected QLD Hoof Trimmer, Peter Laidley was in Tasmania for a workshop so was able to do the initial trim and prescribe a course of treatment. Trims were continued by Cynthia along with daily love and care from his owner, followed by another check up from Peter in May.

In the space of seven months he went from being barely able to move, to trotting and cantering freely on grass. He is now able to handle walking on gravel and his hooves will continue to improve and toughen up now that they are back in shape.

Treatment Summary:
*A natural trim every week for 8 weeks, then every fortnight for the next 6 weeks & now every 3 weeks.
* Initial bandaging of the front hoof wounds to keep honey in and dirt out until the wounds were healed (3 months).
* Painkillers to keep spirits up and encourage some movement (gradually phased out after 4 weeks).
* Confinement away from grass in a large stock yard on soft footing (wood chips & straw then some pea sized gravel was added in wet areas).
FOOD ALLOWED:
Free choice average quality grass hay plus oaten chaff with supplements and a small amount of pellets (Hygain Ice recommended) and a few vegetables for variety.
Once the hooves have regained a sound shape, a small amount of grass is allowed daily (1 hour of grazing with a muzzle on). Once the grass dries off, more grazing can be gradually offered.

 

 

Right after the first trim and padded hooves, Glynn was able to get relief and stand comfortably.

 

The front hooves prior to the first trim - extremely high heels contributed to rotated pedal bones through the sole.

 

The worst front hoof showing the pedal bone through the sole

Polystyrene pads initially provided support and relief.

9 months later the worst front hoof has regained a sound structure.

 

The hind hoof also showing a wound from the rotated pedal bone and blood in the white line.

 

A hind hoof half way through treatment showing the new and old growth.

 

The hind hoof 9 months later.

 

The front hoof is getting closer to its ideal shape 9 months later.

 

Glynn looking and feeling great 9 months later.

 

Glynn was trimmed by Peter Laidley for his 1 year anniversary trim and shows his appreciation with a pony kiss.

 

His hinds are looking fantastic.

 

His front hooves still have some recovery to do but are so much better.

 

Glynn looking good (but still a bit cresty) in Feb. 2006 exactly 12 months after his first rehab trim.


Your Horse is what it Eats - By Cynthia Cooper

Horses evolved to eat small amounts of grasses, herbs and minerals almost constantly throughout the day.
They covered many miles to reach water and lived in small herds of varied ages and sexes.
Does this sound like the modern horse?
Not really - their involvement with humans has necessitated their restriction and artificial feeding for ease of use as a working animal.
But today the majority of horses are used for pleasure and that pleasure need not be all ours. If we want a happy, healthy horse to provide many years of companionship then we can change our ways to suit their nature.
Many new ideas are replacing traditional methods of horsemanship and health care with hoof care and feeding now the focus. Natural Hoof Care practitioners and forage researchers have discovered that horses cannot be fed like cows – on high sugar grasses that maximise beef and milk production. To do so, compromises the health of our horses by causing laminitis as horses become more carbohydrate intolerant – commonly called ‘good doers’.
When horses eat high sugar grass it causes a toxic reaction in the hind gut which then affects the connection between hoof wall and laminae (sensitive internal structure). This causes common hoof ailments such as abscesses, seedy toe, white line disease and deformed, shallow, sensitive hooves.
With a little thought and planning, better management and feeding practices can change all of this.
Here are some changes you can make with feeding to improve health:
  • Ensure grass hay is fed as the main diet, along with free choice minerals and salt.
  • Try to feed as far from the water as possible to encourage movement.
  • Give your horse room to move by fencing a 10–30m wide track around your pasture which makes a long, thin paddock and restricts grass intake.
  • Restrict grass intake appropriately for each horse – most will need to be kept off grass during the evening when the grass sugars are highest. Some horses may only be able to tolerate a couple of hours in the very early morning, especially in spring.
  • Some ‘good doers’ will need to wear a grazing muzzle some of the time to remain with the herd. It’s not comfortable for them to wear a muzzle all the time and colic may result if they don't get enough bulk food (such as hay). It is reccommended to remove the muzzle and horse/pony from the grass and feed hay overnight.
  • Some good doers will need to have their ‘sugar rich’ hay soaked for a few hours to lower the sugar content. Rich hay is usually cut from rye grass & clover pastures designed for fattening cattle.
  • Avoid feeding grain unless your horse is receiving enough additional exercise to utilise the energy such as racehorses, endurance and performance horses. Broodmares, foals and young horses may need some grains and legumes (lucerne) to provide additional protein and calcium. All other horses will gain or maintain weight, safely on free choice hay.
  • Recommended Resources - BOOKS:
    The Natural Horse – Jaime Jackson
    Paddock Paradise – Jaime Jackson
    Founder: Prevention & Cure – Jaime Jackson
    Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You – Pete Ramey
    The Secret of Happy Horses by Sabine Kells
    A Lifetime of Soundness by Dr Strasser

Category : Animal Articles
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