Horse Laminitis has become a common condition, mainly due to pastures that these animals graze on. Horses are classified as grazers or foragers which ultimately mean the animal’s digestive system is designed in such a way to handle continuous supplies of roughage in smaller amounts. Horses in the wild often travel significant distances to ensure they stay alive as the majority of wild grass has low nutrient levels.
In comparison, the domesticated horses are offered with grass that has significant amounts of nutrients and they are confined in far smaller areas. What this has resulted in is that the domestic horses are consuming a lot more sugar than their bodies are able to handle and this sugar is not burnt off fast enough due to limited exercise. This is generally the main contributing factor to horse Laminitis.
In addition, many of the stable horses are provided with significant levels of grain in a single feeding, which is followed by many hours with an empty stomach between feedings. This is extremely disruptive to their digestive systems and is also one of the causes of Laminitis.
The Definition Of Horse Laminitis
Laminitis is described as inflammation in sensitive structures inside the hoof of a horse known as lamellae. These lamellae perform the function in which the “coffin-bone” is held securely inside the hoof-capsule. When looking at a healthy hoof, you can typically tell if the connection is good by looking for the white-line. When the white line is narrow in its width or tight, the connection is regarded as strong.
When this white line has become stretched then this connection has been compromised. When horse Laminitis goes untreated it in most cases will lead to what is known as Founder, which involves the bone becoming detached off the hoof capsule and in more severe cases, the bone penetrates through the actual sole.
Laminitis that occurs in horses is diagnosed as acute if caught in the earlier stages and chronic if the condition has been present for quite some time. Laminitis will occur when the area of the lamellae has become inflamed. The lamellae then produce secretions that are filled with toxins which are what weakens connections between the hoof-wall and coffin bone (image).
This results in a white line that becomes stretched which can be viewed when you look at sole of horses which already have chronic Laminitis.
Symptoms Of Laminitis In Horses
•The horse becomes less active and less reluctant to move when prompted to
•The horse begins to lie down more than it usually does
•The hooves feel warmer to the touch than they usually do
•A response to pain when pressure has been applied to the area of the sole
Prevention Of Horse Laminitis
Laminitis in horses is extremely debilitating and painful which is why prevention is of the upmost importance. This can be achieved by first assessing the lifestyle of the horse in order to identify any potential triggers and then remove them. If grass happens to be one of these triggers, there are methods to use to limit the amounts that the horse eats:
•The creation of a dry-lot with no or very little grass and rather feed the horse with grass hay that has low sugar content.
•The installation of slow feeders in order to slow down the consumption rates.
•To use grazing muzzles on your horses which allows the animals to graze but will limit the amounts that are consumed.
•Create tracks around the fields in order for the horses to move around more in order to obtain their fill.
When grain happens to be the trigger
•Stop feeding the horses grain and rather switch to beet pulp (sugar beet) which has no molasses when the horse requires more than just grass hay or grass.
•If you think that your horses are unable to go without feeding them grain, rather feed more frequently and in smaller amounts.
Once you have dealt with the Laminitis triggers and removed the causes, you can begin the road to recovery. It is vital to obtain the correct trim that will allow the hoof to heal and grow back to form a tighter connection that occurs between the hoof wall and the coffin bone.
Need help from Laminitis experts?
For more information about symptoms, diagnosis and more details of what to do if the laminitis is acute, please visit laminitisinhorses.net.