Have you encountered Laminitis in one of your horses?
What is Laminitis?
Laminitis is the break down of the laminae- the part of the horse’s foot structure that attaches the
coffin bone to the inner wall. The laminae become swollen and therefore do not attach to one
another. When this occurs the huge forces that act on the hoof in a normal movement can drive
the bone down into the ground.
What causes Laminitis?
There are a number of trigger factors that may be the cause of the disease. There is little proof
to justify reasons for determining trigger factors. The most commonly believed theory is
digestive upsets. When horses or ponies overeat too many carbohydrates (the sugars, starches
and fibres that make up lots of the plants and grains the horses eat) this can trigger Laminitis.
Here at Channel View, we find that the spring grass, that is much richer in sugars, triggers the
start of Laminitis.
How to treat Laminitis.
When a horse is deemed to be suffering for Laminitis the first thing we do is decrease their food
intake. This is done here at Channel View by putting the patient in a restricted grazing patch or
even a patch with no grass at all. Often if the patient has shoes on their feet, we will remove
them and cut a section from the front of the hoof wall, at the toe as this provides them with some
relief. We carry on monitoring their progress and what we need to feed them. When we think it’s
needed we also prescribe Bute from the vet as this helps with inflammation and pain relief.
What to feed a horse with Laminitis?
Although horses suffering from this disease need to be strictly rationed they also do need food of
some description. At Channel View, we soak our hay which removes a good deal of the
goodness from it but allowing them to still have forage. Also, we try to use poorer quality hay
which already has a much-reduced level of sugars compared with our normal good quality hay.
How long does Laminitis take to get better?
Unfortunately, there is no set time. It depends on each individual, the severity of disease and the
speed/efficiency of the treatment. Even when a patient seems normal again we rest them for
several weeks before starting their work again.
How long does a horse need box rest when suffering from Laminitis?
The standard advice normally given is 30 days or until the patient moves freely and is no longer
on drugs. At Channel View when I see a patient that is comfortable on their feet and pain-free, I
either allow them time in our ménage to walk around or walk them myself. I believe this helps
with their mental health and to stretch their muscles.