Few equine ailments are as pernicious as Laminitis. The laminae tissue of the foot is extremely sensitive and when inflamed can cause your horse intense pain, discomfort and lameness. When left unchecked, or in the most severe acute cases, the laminae tissue itself can tear. Aside from being excruciating, it inevitably leads to the pedal bone rotating or dropping, which can lead to flow on problems in the legs and back as the animal compensates by shifting its weight to other areas of the body not accustomed to that hefty burden. It’s pretty clear how insufficient preventive or curative measures can quickly lead to misery for horse and owner.
How Do Horses Get Laminitis?
Laminitis, like any other equine or, for that matter, human inflammatory disease, has numerous potential causes. Many of these relate to poor care: high levels of stress, toxemia, hormonal imbalances, physical or psychological trauma and other challenges to the horse’s system can all be contributing factors. The use of steroids, particularly in the racing industry, has also been shown to correlate with the high incidence of the ailment. However, the prevailing wisdom is that by the most common cause of laminitis is something far more common and mundane: obesity, lack of exercise and a diet that is overly laden with sugar and starch. In most cases, this comes down to excessive intake of the most basic and ubiquitous food – grass. Put simply, turning out your horse for too long in lush pasture without sufficient exercise is a high percentage recipe for sore feet in his or her future.
How to Treat Laminitis in Horses
The overwhelming priority when treating a horse suffering from laminitis is to relieve the pressure from the inflammation with firm support for the sole. The easiest way to do this is to remove the shoes as soon as possible. Stabling the horse with soft material underfoot will provide some relief, but there’s little argument that going barefoot is far preferable. The additional support will provide immediate physical relief by alleviating significant pressure on the laminar attachments. Meanwhile, the extra stimulation on the sole promotes enhanced blood flow, which will assist in flushing out excess inflammatory fluid and promoting faster healing.
Hoof Boots for Laminitis
Removing shoes alone, however, can still be a painful process for an already inflamed foot. This is where hoof boots come to the fore when treating horses with laminitis. Hoof boots used for laminitis provide all the benefits of going barefoot, which gives the additional support and protection that will alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with laminar inflammation. As the soles are quite sensitive, it’s worth considering using a pad for additional support and protection. Keep in mind, however, that if you do utilise a pad, you may need to go up a size in boot to ensure that there is enough space. Speak to your vet or farrier, or drop Scoot Boots a line to discuss the combination that will help get your equine companion back to full health as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Once your horse’s feet are safely ensconced in hoof boots, there are a few common-sense measures you can take that will promote healing and prevent a relapse:
- Soak your hay. This helps to remove some of the sugar and starch contained in it, so your horse gets the nutrients it needs without the nasties.
- Sugar levels in grass are highest when it is at its most lush. Limit the amount of time that you turn your horse out during these periods so that they are not eating excessive amounts.
- Keep your horse’s diet full of hoof-healthy ingredients, particularly those that are high in fiber. If necessary, consider supplements that can further promote happy feet.
- Keep your horse moving. Exercise is going to burn off that harmful sugar and starch, so the more of it your horse gets, the less likely he or she is to come down with laminitis.
We hope that this has helped to clarify some of the issues. With plenty of care, attention, love and the implementation of simple, common-sense measures, you can get your horse back on his or her feet quickly and ensure that laminitis is a thing of the past.