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Laminitis is one of the most serious crippling diseases of Ponies, Donkeys and Horses.

Treatment can require a lot of time and money, whether successful or not, and can require a good deal of energy from the owner or carer for a long time.

Laminitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues (laminae) that bond the hoof wall to the pedal (coffin) bone in the horses hoof. It is caused by weakening of the supporting lamina within the hoof, leading to painful tearing of the support structure suspending the pedal bone within the hoof, If not treated promptly the pedal bone drops (described as sinkers) or the pedal bone can rotate downwards.



We can liken the pain in Laminitis to us shutting our fingers in the car door but it will be worse and a constant pain for the horse as they have to stand with all their weight on the bruised areas.


It can affect any horse, of any age or sex at any time of the year, although mostly associated around the spring and autumn months when the change in grass happens and more sugar is produced. Some of the factors to be aware of are
Excess rich grass
Large meals
Trauma (fast or prolonged work on hard surfaces)
Stress ( such as overworking an unfit horse or prolonged travelling in hot or cold conditions)


Shifting weight from side to side
Difficulty walking
Hooves warm to the touch
Strong pulse at the digital artery around the fetlock
Rocking back off the front feet to keep the weight off them


Remove the source
Keep laminitic horses on a nice, deep clean bed ( shavings may offer more comfort and support)
Do not force walking or exercise as this may make matters worse
Do not starve but strip graze and / or use a muzzle (with holes in the bottom to drink)
Use electric fencing to restrict access to large quantities of grass
Sheep or cattle are invaluable to keep grass down
Do not turn out on frosty grass
Turn out on sand arenas if no other turnout is available
Use oil (Soya oil or pure vegetable oil) as an energy source
Increase workload before increasing feed
Feed frequent small meals
Feed a suitable supplement or high fibre feed (like Happy Hoof) to help provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Biotin and MSM can help.
Keep cereals in the diet to a minimum
Control weight gain and keep body condition at less than 3
Ensure the farrier regularly trims the feet
Bute and ACP will help with the pain and inflammation.

There are many many factors to consider with Laminitis but if your horse or pony has suffered previously or you notice any symptoms to suggest Laminitis then the best you can do is to work closely and quickly together with your vet and farrier to have a happy horse with a long and pain free life.



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