The most common cause of Laminitis is when a horse experiences a carbohydrate overload. This means that the digestive tract is trying to handle an excessive or sudden increase in sugary grass, grain or some other high sugar/starch content, horse feed. This impacts the horse’s bacteria levels and its PH, allowing toxins to spill out into the bloodstream. And, this can diminish blood flow and circulation to the hoof. Given the crisis that laminitis can create, in relationship to horse health, the first line of attack in dealing with laminitis, is a dedicated, prevention based, feeding and exercise, regime.
Though the catalyst for most equine laminitis is poor horse nutrition, there are, of course, other causes. The beloved 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, who’s shattered leg ended his career, during the Preakness, fell prey to laminitis as a direct result of his injuries. A horse naturally places 60% of his weight onto his front legs, and having to increase that ratio while trying to shift weight off a damaged leg, almost always leads to laminitis. Horses spend the majority of their lives standing, ready to take-off whenever danger lurks. Since they can’t just lay down for long periods of recuperation, they instinctively throw more weight onto their healthy legs. This causes additional stress, leading to inflammation of the hoof’s laminae and, laminitis. Horses that don’t get treated immediately can ultimately develop a condition called founder, where they become extremely crippled and may never recover. By understanding and correcting your equine feed choices, you can dramatically improve your horse’s chances of avoiding laminitis, altogether.
Start by being very selective about where your horse is pastured. Avoid rich grasses, like high sugar grasses that crop up in Spring & Autumn. These grasses have the high-soluble carbohydrates that can prompt the carbohydrate overload, and cascading sequence of problems, mentioned above. Keep tack rooms and feed-bins where horse treats, specialty feeds and grains are stored, super secure.
An unlocked grain room is the equivalent of nirvana to horses and they will eat everything in sight, left to their own devices. This could spell disaster for horse health, so it’s critical that your feed room is never left unlocked and that your horses can’t escape their stalls or corrals. Another big issue is the temperature of your horse’s water. Overly warm or freezing cold water will discourage a horse from proper liquid intake in the short term. Then, compelled by overwhelming thirst, the horse may inhale a great deal of unusually cold or hot water, potentially triggering a bout of equine colic or laminitis, so keep your horse’s water at the right temperatures.
While we all want our horses to be fat and happy, it’s important not to let them cross the line into becoming obese. Obese horses experience more stress on their feet, making them more vulnerable to laminitis. Should your horse get chubby, discuss the best combination of hay, horse grains and horse supplements for your horse’s slimming campaign. Stick to the horse products your vet recommends and get your horse back down to her fighting weight.
Peritonitis, a condition of the abdominal wall, metritis, an inflammation of the uterine lining and diarrhea in horses can all upset a horse’s system and set off a cascade of toxins spilling into the horse’s bloodstream. This can be a precursor for laminitis. Call your vet whenever any of these conditions surface.
Cart and driving horses are particularly prone to laminitis, given the amount of shock they experience being trotted and cantered on pavement and hard trails. Restrict any gait above a walk to a ring with good footing, consider specialty pads and be careful never to let your horse’s feet grow too long.
Not surprisingly, stress can trigger an episode of equine laminitis. If your horse seems out of sorts, you may want to call your vet for a consult.
Horse people are so good at persuading an uncooperative horse, they sometimes forget to consider the source of the horse’s resistance. If your horse hates being loaded onto a horse trailer, it could be because he gets stressed out during the actual ride. Is the trailer’s ride fairly quiet and comfortable, or is it loud and shocking? Inspect your trailer’s flooring. Is it cushioned? Now, with no horses nearby, jump up and down inside the trailer. Is it noisy? That’s what your horse hears as it’s hauled. You may want to compare the trailer being used to haul your horse to other brands, to see if there’s a better designed solution, available.
Another stressful issue for horses is fly control and Mosquito control, house & biting stable flies (among others) can all contribute to your horse’s stress levels and to laminitis, if the horse spends too much time stomping. If you’ve got flies, deal with pest control aggressively by utilizing beneficial insects and fly trap products.
Proper Care & Feeding Of Horses Who’ve Suffered Through Laminitis.
One of the most common wives tales regarding diet and equine laminitis, is that the horse should be kept on a virtual starvation diet, to help bring the laminitis under control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Understanding feed for horses, post laminitis is something you should undertake carefully, first consulting with your horse’s vet, of course. While you might want to add a bit of Straw Chaff or Alfalfa Hay to enhance calcium levels, for the most part, a carefully balanced diet comprised of high fiber feeds, vitamins & minerals, should do the trick.