Carbohydrate overload can be one of the major triggers for equine laminitis. This is when a horse’s digestive tract is too overwhelmed to process an excessive amount of sugary equine feeds, horse grain or high sugar load grasses, correctly. This can spur a sudden imbalance in bacteria & PH levels, leading to a toxic reaction that compromises circulation and blood pressure to the horse’s extremities, especially to his feet. And, this can be a precursor to laminitis. Laminitis is one of the most serious horse health issues known and horse owners should endeavor to prevent it.
While inferior horse nutrition is responsible for most cases of laminitis, there are, of course, many other causes. The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, shattered his leg during a false start at that year’s Preakness. As so often happens with injured horses, Barbaro ultimately fell victim to laminitis. Horses are well designed for their role as prey animals. They spend most of their time standing, so as to be able to run off at the first sign of danger. A horse with an
injured limb will still try to spend as much time standing as possible, compensating for the injury by trying to shift more weight onto its other limbs. This strategy is usually successful for only so long, given that horses already place 60% of their weight onto their front legs. The additional weight ultimately stresses the hoof’s laminae, spearheading a laminitis attack. If a vet doesn’t treat the laminitis almost immediately, it will, in many cases progress to the crippling condition known as founder.
By adjusting your horse feed, you can dramatically improve your horse’s chances of avoiding laminitis. Pasture lands with especially sugar rich grasses should be avoided. These high soluble carbohydrate grasses tend to grow mostly in Spring and Autumn. And, never let a horse gain access to the feed-bins or tack rooms where your grains, horse treats and specialty feeds are stored.
There aren’t many horses, who, given the opportunity, wouldn’t stuff themselves silly on sweet feed & grain. Unfortunately, all it takes is one incident of a horse breaking into a grain room, for the worst to occur. Regulating the temperature of your horse’s water is also very important. A horse will let itself become seriously dehydrated when confronted with water that’s too hot or cold. Then, forced by thirst, it may then gulp down large quantities of freezing or heated water. This can easily trigger a bout of laminitis or equine colic, so, be vigilant about both these issues.
The line between a horse turning into a butterball and looking sleek can be pretty fine. But, since fat horses are far more prone to laminitis, it’s up to you to keep your horse’s weight on the right side of the scale. If your horse gets fat, ask your vet’s advice on the best combo of horse grains, horse supplements and hay to bring your horse’s weight down. Use the horse nutrition products she recommends and keep to the plan.
Peritonitis, (where the thin tissue that lines a horse’s abdominal walls gets irritated or inflamed), diarrhea in horses and metritis (where a mare’s uterine lining has become inflamed) are all capable of driving toxins into a horse’s system, creating a catalyst for laminitis. Call your vet immediately should any of these conditions arise.
The excessive surface shock creating by trotting and cantering horses on hard trails and pavement can make cart & driving horses particularly vulnerable to laminitis. Try never to go faster than a walk, outside of the ring. Discuss pads with your shoer and never let your horse’s feet grow too long.
Stress can trigger health problems in humans. It can also trigger horse health problems like laminitis. You know and love your horse. If he seems to be upset, you may need to consult your veterinarian to understand and fix, the problem. Or an early trip into horse retirement might be in store.
When we watch a horse being difficult about loading onto a trailer, we assume that it’s something about actually walking onto the trailer, that’s the problem. But, it could be that the lack of floor cushioning and trailer noise that the horse remembers and that has him rattled about loading. Check your trailer’s flooring and, when there are no horses around, jump around in the trailer to see what kind of noise it makes. That noise is pretty much what your horse listens to as it’s being hauled. If the experience is so stressful that your horse dreads it, you may have to look at switching trailers or haulers.
Equine medications for pain and ulcer control can negatively impact the production of digestive enzymes, potentially setting off a cascade of intestinal issues that can trigger a laminitis attack. Make sure your horse is monitored for proper enzyme levels, when being medicated for ulcer issues.
Many horses that have endured laminitis are kept on virtual starvation diets, to try to discourage another attack. Is this truly necessary? Not in most cases. Knowing how to feed for horses after they’ve been through a laminitis attack isn’t rocket science, but, it must be done right. You’ll be utilizing a combination of high-fiber feeds, minerals and vitamins and in many cases, Alfalfa Hay or Straw Chaff, to keep your horse’s nutrition met while keeping the sugar load at a minimum.
Every horse owner should consult with their vet about which high-fiber, low carbohydrate, horse supplement enhanced combination of horse products is best for their horse. Many older horses require senior horse feeds, as well. Have your horse routinely checked for horse health issues and make sure you know what he or she is eating, right down to the horse treats you use. Before you try new supplements for horses, run them by your vet, for additional piece of mind.