Stay a step ahead of laminitis

Stay a step ahead of laminitis

Stay a step ahead of laminitis

The best way to help avoid the pain and stress of laminitis is to be prepared; as soon as you notice the fields getting greener, which can happen as early as late February, it’s time to take action says Clare Barfoot, RNutr, the research and development manager at SPILLERS®.

Keep the weight off

If your horse or pony is still a little portly you need to cut back his calorie intake as there is no doubt that being overweight can increase the risk.

Cut back on the green stuff


The most important consideration when it comes to spring and managing laminitis is to restrict grass intake. This can be done in many different ways such as using a grazing muzzle, strip grazing, turning out in a bare paddock or restricting time out at pasture.

Up the exercise

Increasing exercise can help keep weight in check; even if you don’t have time to ride consider lunging or loose schooling as every little helps. At the same time consider reducing the rugs you are using to allow your horse or pony the opportunity to burn a few more calories to keep warm.

Keep up the exercise - Image SG Sports Horses
Keep up the exercise – Image SG Sports Horses

Feed safely

Feeds for laminitics should be high in fibre and low in starch and sugar and cereal-based products should be avoided as they are high in starch. Feeds should also contain a balanced supply of vitamins or minerals. If you are feeding a traditional compound feed why not consider a balancer instead. This will provide a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals without unnecessary calories.

Clare’s eight essential tips to help keep your horse safe from laminitis:

·       Be cautious with turnout and do not turn out those at higher risk such as natives and cob types onto new, high quality pasture.

·      Restrict grass intake. Even winter grass can be a significant contributor to excess calories. A horse or pony can consume up to three times its normal daily energy requirement in just 24 hours at grass. Consider using an appropriately fitting grazing muzzle for part of the day and/or restrict time out at grass, although body condition still needs to be monitored as some animals can still consume a considerable amount even in a short period of time.

·       Keep regular track of your horse’s body condition to keep those excess kilos at bay. Check out the SPILLERS website at to find out more about body condition scoring and using a weigh tape.

·      Increase exercise if you can, not only to help your horse or pony lose or maintain a healthy weight but also to help keep the metabolism healthy.

·      Provide an alternative low calorie forage source (not less than 1.5% bodyweight per day on a dry matter basis). Replacing pasture with suitable (less than 10% (on a dry matter basis) water soluble carbohydrate, WSC) hay, haylage or a forage replacer will help replicate natural browsing behaviour whilst controlling calories and WSC intake.

·      Avoid feeding cereals or cereal based feeds and opt for a balancer or if additional calories are required look for a high oil, high digestible fibre, low starch and sugar option.

·      Provide daily vitamins and minerals to balance the diet, an appropriate feed balancer is ideal for this purpose.

·      Don’t over-rug overweight horses and ponies especially if they are natives or unclipped. Let them burn calories to keep warm.

Contact the SPILLERS® Care-Line

Laminitis has always been and continues to be one of the most common reasons horse owners contact the SPILLERS® Care-Line for advice, all year round. If you have any concerns about feeding a laminitis- susceptible horse or pony give us a call on 01908 226626 or visit

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