Has your horse had a laminitic attack?
Laminitis is a worldwide epidemic that sees countless horses euthanized each year. Yet this condition is 100% preventable, and curable. If your horse has had a laminitic attack you need to take immediate action! Laminitis is caused by an inflammation of the hoofs internal structure, which results in separation of the hoof from the horse.
What does this mean for my horse?
If your horse has had a laminitic attack, you need to act immediately. This is an emergency situation that is potentially life threatening. Laminitis is the result of an immune system failure and causes metabolic distress, stemming from an imbalance in their intestinal bacteria. This upset to their digestion expresses itself in the form of inflammation both of the hoof and the entire body. When this happens the structures that bond the hoof together fail, with far reaching consequences.
While laminitis has a number of different forms, all are potentially life threatening. If your horse has undergone an attack, we wish you all the best in its rehabilitation and recovery.
For those whose horses have not experienced this pathology, prevention is better than cure and we strongly urge that you take the time to familiarise yourself with this condition.
How can I recognize it?
Laminitis has one easily recognisable characteristic, pain. Horses will change their stance in order to escape the pain it causes. Which ranges from tenderfootedness to acute lameness.
A horse may adopt the classic founder stance, wherein weight is pulled as far back as possible. Either to the back of their front feet, or in some cases all weight is transferred to the hind feet. Additionally, horse may stand and lie down frequently without finding any relief from the pain.
When the bonds that hold the hoof together fail, the result is a foot that grows away from the body. This leads to the name, "Slipper Toe". A hoof that appears to fall off from the horse is a classic sign of laminitis.
A laminitic hoof will be painful and hot, with an easily found digital pulse. The presence of lamelar stress rings, or an elongated white line are also symptoms of this pathology.
There are three forms of laminitis. If your horse has suddenly experienced a violent attack it is suffering from acute laminitis.
If they are suffering from more subtle signs such as foot sensitivity and a slowly stretching white line they have subclinical laminitis.
If the laminitis is ongoing, this is chronic laminitis.
How can I help to see this healed?
Take action now, any form of laminitis should be treated as an emergency. If your horse is in noticeable pain you should contact your hoofcare practitioner immediately. If you have also decided to contact your vet, make sure your trimmer/farrier can be there at the same time, this will enable them to provide insight and support into the situation as they see it - remember they are the hoofcare professionals not the vet.
Should the vet deploy a hoof tester, do not allow them to use it! This is an unnecessary and barbaric procedure that should be banned. Use of the hoof tester can cause permanent lameness if damage is caused to the digit, dermis and capsule.
If you are advised to put shoes on, kindly decline and instead follow a natural trim regime, contrary to conventional opinion shoes are not the answer.
It goes without saying that the trim and healing will be largely ineffective if the treatment is not approached holistically. Diet, trigger, trim all need to be addressed in order for your horse to make a full recovery from the epidemic that is laminitis.
How can I make sure this doesn't happen again?
If your horse has had a laminitic attack, your hoofcare professional should map out a rehabilitation and prevention plan for you. Prevention is better than cure and the following guidelines will go a long way to ensure your horse never experiences this pathology.
Identify and remove triggers that are known to cause metabolic distress. Rich sugar diets (molasses feeds, beet pulps, grasses and legumes) should be cut out all together. And use caution with vaccinations and chemical wormers.
Make adjustments to bring your diet in line with NHC practices and stick with it despite what conventional recommendations may advise. Holistic preventative care is what will essentially founder proof your horse.