Laminitis is a painful condition, characterised by inflammation of the laminae of the foot. This inflammation and subsequent damage can lead to extreme and crippling pain for a horse, and may require euthanasia in severe cases. Contact a vet immediately you see any possible signs of laminitis. Whatever the cause of laminitis, the care and management afterwards follows the same principles. Here are some of the key things you need to do for a horse or pony that is prone to laminitis.
Change The Horse’s Diet
There is plenty of horse feed on the market designed specifically for horses and ponies prone to laminitis. The best feeds will be low-sugar and high in fibre. Some contain added vitamins and minerals but will need to be fed at recommended amounts to ensure the diet is balanced. If this is too much for your horse use a straight, high fibre feed and add a supplement or balancer.
Keep the horse off the grass
Stabling the horse and preventing them from having access to grass is the only to ensure you have complete control over what they are eating. This may be necessary in the short term to achieve weight loss, assuming they are overweight, and then longer term you can gradually reintroduce some time in the paddock.
Regular foot trimming
Recent research identified periods of more than 8 weeks between trimming as a risk factor for laminitis. Whilst this is a correlation not a causation, it is important that your farrier visits regularly to ensure the conformation of the hooves is not increasing the risk of laminitis.
Once the horse is sound and you have been given the go ahead to exercise your horse again, it is vital to do so. Not only does it burn calories to aid weight management but exercise is also thought to improve insulin sensitivity.
Other hormonal issues eg PPID (Cushings)
PPID, formerly known as Cushing’s Syndrome, increases the risk of laminitis. If your horse is older or showing any signs of PPID such as a curly coat or drinking more, consult your vet as some medication may be required to manage the problem.
If you are unsure if your horse is suffering from laminitis or are simply looking for advice for dealing with this horrible disease, speak to your vet or a nutritionist for further help.