There are a few words that would immediately instill anxiety into any equestrian and one of those words would certainly be laminitis.  Laminitis is the inflammation of the laminae of the hoof.  This inflammation causes difficulty in walking, pain in the hooves, and increased heat and digital pulse.  The causes of laminitis are many, but for our purposes we will look into laminitis from a nutritional perspective.  Laminitis can result from a feeding program that involves a carbohydrate overload.  Too much grain given in one feeding forces the horse to ferment carbohydrates in the hindgut, which is not what needs to happen.  This will cause toxins to be released into the bloodstream, which causes the laminae in the feet to become inflamed.  Try to feed your horse in small meals throughout the day and evening and never feed more grain than what your horse really needs for its energy requirements.  If you have an overweight horse, take measures to gradually decrease its weight without causing too much stress.  Make sure the obese horse is consuming mainly low calorie grass hays.  Limit the time the horse spends on lush pasture and consider utilizing tools such as grazing muzzles or nibble nets.

 

If your horse is already having a laminitis episode, put the horse on a dry lot immediately.  Take the horse off all grains and grass and call your veterinarian.  There are various treatments for laminitis depending on the severity.  Follow the instructions of your veterinarian closely and take not of different management strategies to handle horses with laminitis.

 

So you have a horse that has laminitis…now what?!  First, avoid feeding anything high in starch.  Your feed supplier should have a low starch feed available.  Excel Equine®® ’s low starch feed is called Carbolyte and has been instrumental in helping people handle horses with these needs.  Also, do not let your horse graze on grass right after it has frosted.  The NSC content in the grass is very high at this time.  The best time period to allow your horse to graze is usually early in the morning.

 

By working with your veterinarian and following these nutritional guidelines, you are setting your horse up for a road of recovery or prevention of laminitis.  While laminitis may cause us to start to panic slightly, remember that there are methods for managing this disease and many resources at your disposal to aid in prevention and treatment.

 

 

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