One of the major concerns for horse owners, especially in Springtime, is laminitis and founder. If you can recognise the early signs and address the condition as quickly as possible, all the better for your horse.
As an animal homeopath this is the most common ailment I successfully address for clients horses on a daily basis.
Laminitis and founder are extremely painful conditions. If not addressed promptly, laminitis can result in rotation of the third phalanx (coffin bone) through the sole of the hoof. Inflammation occurs in the sensitive laminae in the horse’s hooves, restricting circulation in the hoof. Separation of the laminae – founder – can also result in seedy toe and abscesses which can also be extremely painful for the horse.
Laminitis episodes can be triggered by many different circumstances, including:
- An overload of sugar and starches in the diet, possibly from grazing on lush pastures. This can cause an imbalance in the gut bacteria and production of an endotoxin that triggers inflammation in the hoof laminae
- Poorly trimmed feet – long toes
- Mineral deficiency and poor gut health
- A secondary reaction to an infection somewhere in the body, such as a uterus infection in broodmares
- Insulin resistance (ponies with hard crested necks) and horses with Cushing disease
Here are the symptoms you should look for to spot an acute case of Laminitis:
- Heat in the coronary band and the hoof – the horse will stand ‘underneath’ itself leaning weight on the hind end
- Tenderness of the hooves, obvious pain when walking on hard surfaces or not wanting to move at all
- A strong and bounding digital pulse ( felt behind the pastern)
- Obvious pain, anxiety, sweating and increased respiration
Other symptoms found in chronic laminitis in horses include:
- Separation of the sensitive laminae
- Third phalanx displacement or rotation
- Sole of hoof becomes flat or dropped
- Abscesses and seedy toe (these can also occur with acute laminitis)
Keep your horse or pony in the correct weight range. Exercise your pony regularly as this increases circulation. Feed a balanced diet (using a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement). Do not feed your horse or pony sugars, and do not feed grain or lucerne to fat ponies. Do not lock fat ponies up in small yards without exercising them.
A number of natural remedies are useful in addressing laminitis.
- Homeopathic remedies can be used to reduce pain and inflammation in the hooves, and can help resolve laminitis promptly. Homeopathics can also be given two to three times a week, to prevent laminitis.
- Rescue remedy can help reduce stress.
- Herbs can reduce inflammation, particularly Chamomile & Rosehips. Herbs for easing pain (include White Willow and Devil’s Claw).
- Correct hoof trimming should be an ongoing part of your care regime.
New studies have found that applying ice water around inflamed hooves can prevent the onset of laminitis if caught in the early stages. Running cold water over the lower legs and hooves can also help reduce the inflammation.
Prevention is better than cure in laminitis cases. It is comforting to know there are safe, fast, natural solutions to address this condition if it does happen to your horse.
For a consultation or for more information on natural therapies, remedies and solutions, please call or email Belinda.
Getting your horse or pony’s diet right with a case of laminitis is an essential part of their care and recovery. Here’s what you should be feeding:
Grass or pasture hay – preferably older hay (low sugar – no clover or rye) that is not mouldy
- Wheaten chaff (small amount of Lucerne chaff or oaten chaff- for flavour), with no grain
- Copra meal (coconut) – soaked in warm water
- Minerals or mineral lick, but with no molasses
- Add dose of Belinda’s Custom Loose Lick for your area
- Vitamin C powder can also be added as a valuable supplement
- Suitable herbs, as recommended by a herbalist, can be made into a tea – Chamomile and Rosehip are useful
- Rescue Remedy can also be added to the horse’s drinking water to help with stress.
Here’s what not to feed during a case of laminitis, or to a horse or pony which is prone to laminitis:
- Limit feeding of Lucerne hay or lucerne chaff
- Clover hay
- Molasses or feeds containing sugar
- Any grain or feeds containing grain such as oats,
- Pellets or bread
- NO apples or carrots
- Do not let your horse or pony graze on lush green pastures – especially at night or when it is frosty or extreme heat.
Exercise during laminitis
When your horse’s condition improves and it is able to move around, ensure your horse has adequate exercise. Begin with a five to ten minute walk twice a day, and increase this over time as your horse improves.
It’s important that your horse or pony is not confined in a stable or small yard for long periods at a time. A horse with laminitis should not be kept in a concrete floored stable. Correct bedding is essential – use rubber or deep sawdust or sand on floor, at least 10cm thick to ensure your horse’s comfort and recovery.
Nelly recovering well after homeopathic remedies, farrier work and WS Loose Lick supplement.
Nelly Before Homeopathic care – on vet drugs
What you can do for your horse?
There are a number of measures you can take and natural forms of care on offer for a horse or pony with laminitis.
Laminitis can be effectively resolved and/or prevented with homeopathic remedies, as prescribed by an Animal Homeopath. Call me to get your consult form today!
It is important to ensure you have your horse’s teeth checked by a qualified equine dentist on a regular basis and hooves trimmed correctly as required. This will ensure your horse is ‘balanced’ – most health issues arise when your horse is not in balance.
Cut down on fertilisers – Superphosphate ‘ties up’ the magnesium in the soil, so avoid using it in your pastures. Laminitic horses are characteristically deficient in magnesium.
Note on Bute (Butazolidin)
As you may be aware, many vets prescribe ‘bute’ for a horse with laminitis. This ‘masks’ the pain and the horse may appear better, but unfortunately Bute may also block the body’s heailng process, preventing a true long term cure. Long term use of Bute may cause other problems; it can weaken blood vessels causing internal haemorrhaging. Your horse MUST be off bute for 3-4 days before starting homeopathic drops as they may stop the drops from working.
“Good Morning Belinda,
Well what progress we have had with Nelly. Thank you for those Pain Eze drops. They worked well for Nelly and gave her a little extra comfort. Nelly is coming along fantastic. She is so mobile now and nearly back to being a normal horse. Her time on her feet has extended out to only lying down twice a day !!!! She no longer feeds and lies down, she now stands after she feeds
Her hooves are growing out well. Steve is trimming them short and we are still 3 months or so away from being fully grown out, but every week we see progress.
Nelly is still on the skinny side, however she is feeding well and her bowls are normal and she eats her Maxi soy on its own. I’ve also been giving her Flaxseed oil every second day.
Her coat is shiny and she is happy. She desperately wants to be out with our other horses but we still feel she is still too weak to be with them. The last thing we need is for her to be picked on.
All her wounds have cleared up as you can see by the picture.
Thanks again for all your help. We have been talking with our Vet Sandy and keeping her in the loop with Nelly’s progress.”
Steve & Jo – Central QLD
This pony had a suspected eye injury, with clouding and a solid white spot on the eye ball. The pony’s eye was shut, swollen and weeping badly.
The eye was washed out with homeopathic remedy Golden Seal using just one drop mixed in warm clean water. This was done twice a day. On alternate days Ionic Silver was used. Homeopathic silica was given orally to remove any foreign bodies in the eye (if any). In a week the eye was open and no longer swollen or weeping. The eye was washed just once a day after this. By the fourth week the clouding and spot had disappeared altogether and has not returned.