Laminitis is every horse owner’s worst nightmare, but it’s even worse for the horse. Overweight ponies are at higher risk of developing laminitis, but factors like genetics, environment, feed (excess sugar and protein) and management can all be factors in causing any horse or pony to come down with laminitis.
The idea that only fat ponies get laminitis is a myth!
Laminitis is an inflammation of the hooves. More precisely, it is an inflammation of the laminae, the connection between the bone and the hoof wall. This inflammation can lead to the bone separating from the wall and causing severe pain. Your horse can recover from laminitis, but it is a disease that often reoccurs. In extreme cases the bone will rotate in the hoof and is irreversible.
Laminitis has several causes. The three most important causes are ID (insulin dysregulation), PPID (Cushing’s) and excess weight. Horses with ID have a higher risk of developing laminitis, especially in the spring when grasses contain higher levels of fructan. Cushing’s disease often affects older horses and can be caused by higher sugar and protein content in feed. A balanced feed plan is therefore a must for horses with ID or PPID. Laminitis also occurs more often in easy keepers, i.e., horses that don’t need to eat much to gain weight, examples being Welsh, Dartmoor and Shetland ponies. But even warmbloods with a tendency to gain weight and are easily susceptible to insulin insensitivity can contract laminitis.
Four Tips for Laminitis Prevention
- Provide Suitable Feed
Laminitis can develop from disorders in the gastrointestinal tract due to high sugar and protein intake. A balanced diet helps to prevent laminitis. Cavalor can provide nutritional advice from our experts!
- Maintain Healthy Weight
Overweight horses and ponies are more likely to suffer from laminitis. Keep an eye on your horse’s weight. Did you know that you can easily calculate your horse’s weight without a scale?Visit MyCavalor.com to learn how.
- Make sure your horse gets enough exercise
Exercise is always important, but it is all the more important for horses that are susceptible to illness. In cases of laminitis, blood circulation is impaired and exercise stimulates good blood circulation.
- Turnout? Yes, but in moderation
A horse susceptible to laminitis may be turned out, but turnout should be limited. Close off small paddock areas so that the horse has “new grass” to graze on every day but can’t overdo it.