One of the most heartbreaking diseases that can happen to a horse is laminitis.
Laminitis is the inflammation of the laminae, which is the "velcro" that surrounds the hoof’s coffin bone and glues it to the hoof wall. Laminitis is most common in both front feet, and can happen in the hind feet as well. Founder is when the “velcro” has failed and the bones of the hoof are displaced, either by sinking, rotating, or sinking medially. It’s important to stress that if you even think your horse is developing laminitis or another hoof condition get your horse’s feet into ice and call your Veterinarian right away.
It’s recommended by the Veterinary community that any horse showing signs of laminitis remain in ice therapy for 24-48 hours straight, or longer, depending on the case. Cold therapy on the hooves and lower legs not only reduces inflammation and pain, it prevents more triggering chemicals in your horse’s body from reaching the hooves causing more damage.
Of course this is only helpful if you know what to look for! Some common signs of laminitis are:
It’s often very helpful to know a little bit more about your horse’s lifestyle and diet, as metabolic issues such as insulin resistance and Cushing’s disease are often factors in laminitis development. A simple blood test yearly (or twice yearly) will tell your Veterinarian about your horse’s metabolic state.
Other factors that influence the development of laminitis include:
Now - some of these signs are also signs of an abscess or other hoof ailment, which also can be really painful and should be treated right away. If you suspect abscess, work with your Veterinarian to make sure it is just an abcess.
Some of us would rather save few bucks and have our Farrier come out to check for an abscess, which they are very often experienced in. However, your Veterinarian is also versed in this and can eliminate laminitis as a cause. Veterinarians can diagnose diseases and conditions, prescribe appropriate medictions, and work into the soft tissue in the hoof. Farriers can't do these things, so don’t wait, don’t wait, don’t wait if you see any of those signs. Call the Veterinarian and start your horse on some cold therapy.