The mo­ment your horse be­gins to show signs of this dev­as­tat­ing hoof dis­ease, take quick ac­tion to slow its progress and re­duce the ex­tent of the dam­age.

EQUUS - - Front Page - By Lau­rie Bonner

Lamini­tis---the in­flam­ma­tion of the sen­si­tive lam­i­nae in­side the hoof wall---is a fright­en­ing dis­or­der. Ex­cru­ci­at­ingly painful, lamini­tis can weaken the lam­i­nae and al­low the cof­fin bone in­side the hoof to sink and/or ro­tate down­ward, caus­ing per­ma­nent de­for­mity. In se­vere cases, eu­thana­sia may be the only hu­mane op­tion, and sur­vivors may never be sound again.

Any horse can de­velop acute lamini­tis, caused by an over­load of car­bo­hy­drates, se­vere gas­troin­testi­nal ill­ness or me­chan­i­cal stresses. More com­mon, how­ever, is the chronic form, a milder con­di­tion trig­gered by hor­monal im­bal­ances as­so­ci­ated with equine0 meta­bolic syn­drome (EMS), pi­tu­itary0 pars in­ter­me­dia dys­func­tion (PPID, also called Cush­ing’s dis­ease) or other dis­or­ders.

The ear­li­est signs of lamini­tis may be alarm­ingly ob­vi­ous or they may be sub­tle--but once you spot them, you need to act im­me­di­ately. Here’s what to do:


Call the vet­eri­nar­ian; say you have an emer­gency and ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion.


Put the horse’s feet in ice. Ic­ing the feet is the one treat­ment that has been proven to halt the progress of lamini­tis un­der lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions. The ear­lier, the bet­ter. When re­searchers in Australia start­ing ic­ing a horse’s feet im­me­di­ately af­ter ad­min­is­ter­ing oligofruc­tose0 to in­duce the dis­ease, they were able to pre­vent lamini­tis from de­vel­op­ing. Ic­ing may be use­ful if a horse has bro­ken into a grain bin and you strongly sus­pect lamini­tis may fol­low. And this ther­apy can also greatly re­duce the sever­ity of the dis­ease even if the treat­ment does not start un­til af­ter signs of foot pain ap­pear.

Stand the horse in a tub with cold wa­ter and ice deep enough to sub­merge the leg up to the mid­dle of the can­non bone, and re­plen­ish the ice as needed un­til the vet­eri­nar­ian ar­rives.


Take the horse’s tem­per­a­ture. Lamini­tis may ac­com­pany other ill­nesses. Of course, you’d prob­a­bly al­ready know if your horse were se­ri­ously ill, but an el­e­vated tem­per­a­ture might in­di­cate un­der­ly­ing prob­lems you hadn’t no­ticed. Re­port your find­ings to your vet­eri­nar­ian.

When he ar­rives, the vet­eri­nar­ian will of­fer guid­ance based on your horse’s con­di­tion and cir­cum­stances. As you wait, you may want to en­list a friend who can lend a hand and help gather any sup­plies your vet­eri­nar­ian might need.


Lo­cate an area with soft foot­ing. As your horse be­gins re­cov­ery from lamini­tis, you will want to pro­vide him with a stall with very deep bed­ding (at least eight inches) or a small pen with deep, soft foot­ing, such as sand. The soft ma­te­rial will pack up in­side the hoof, sup­port­ing the cof­fin bone, which may pre­vent or re­duce ro­ta­tion while also eas­ing the horse’s pain.

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