A GENERAL MANAGEMENT STRATEGY FOR REDUCING LAMINITIS RISK
1. Grazing. Some horses can eat large quantities of new grass without any trouble, but others may develop laminitis after eating just small amounts of lush grass. In fact, most laminitis cases are caused when horses graze too much on rich pasture, particularly in the spring and fall when grass can be high in sugars. Talk to your veterinarian about your horse’s risk; you may need to limit his access to lush pasture, fit him with a grazing muzzle or temporarily move him to a dry lot.
2. Diet. Reduce the sugars and starches in the diet of horses who have had laminitis, are insulin resistant or are otherwise at risk. Many low-sugar feeds are now available as substitutes for sweet feeds that contain molasses or other sugars. In fact, many feed companies offer products specifically formulated for laminitis prevention. And don’t forget that some treats can be high in sugars: For at-risk horses, stick to small amounts of carrot slices or peanuts in the shell. 3. Hoof care. Overgrown and unbalanced hooves can develop mechanical laminitis. And should laminitis occur, neglected hooves are more likely to founder than are healthy, balanced hooves. Keep your horse on a regular (every six to eight weeks) farriery schedule. 4. Weight maintenance. The relationship between obesity, metabolic dysfunction and laminitis is not entirely understood, but one thing is clear: Obese horses are far more likely to develop laminitis than are those at optimal weight. Periodically assess your horse’s body condition--and, if he’s starting to put on excess pounds, devise a diet and exercise plan to address the issue.
Should laminitis occur, neglected hooves are more likely to founder than are healthy, balanced hooves.