Calling the vet is the first step if you suspect that your horse has laminitis, they will be able to offer pain relief and help you to work out a plan to treat and manage the condition.
Understanding of laminitis has improved significantly over the last 5-10 years and there is so much more that can be done to help laminitic horses and ponies, but meanwhile here are some suggestions to keep your horse comfortable while you wait for the vet.
1.Remove the horse from the pasture
Laminitis is inflammation within the lamellae, this causes damage, weakening the structure of these cells. In severe cases the weakened lamellae can break, meaning that the pedal bone is no longer supported within the hoof capsule. Therefore with any suspected case of laminitis it is essential to limit any further damage by reducing movement. The horse or pony should be removed from the field, and stabled immediately. Due to the painful nature of the condition the horse should be allowed to walk at their own pace, or it may be appropriate to travel the horse in a low trailer if the field is a longer distance from the stables. If no stabling is available a small pen will need to be created to reduce movement.
2.Create a comfortable environment
As well as restricting movement stabling the horse will allow it to be more comfortable, and a deep bed of shavings is ideal. The horse needs to be able to dig it’s hooves into the bedding material to provide pain relief, and the deep bed must be continued right up to the door of the stable. Some owners like to use sand but this must be dry and not too tightly compacted, and cardboard bedding could also be used, the bedding material just needs to be able to mould around the hoof and provide support to the frog.
It is sensible to ensure that the horse has a companion close by, it help keep it calm and as relaxed as possible.
- Provide soaked hay and water within easy reach
The laminitic horse should not be starved, but does need to be fed an appropriate diet which is lower in non structural carbohydrates. Your vet will help you to devise a suitable diet to help manage laminitis, but soaking hay is an effective way to reduce the sugar content. Hay can be soaked in cold water for several hours, but for a more immediate option warm water can be used, soaking hay for 30 minutes to one hour to make it a safer forage choice for the laminitic horse or pony. It is essential that both hay and water are easy for the horse to get to, as limiting movement and reducing any further pain is the priority.
I hope that you have found this article helpful, remember laminitis can affect horses and ponies of all ages and sizes, and it is essential to call the vet if you suspect that your horse is suffering with this condition.
If you’d like to learn more about laminitis, and how to manage this condition you can take part in the first ‘National Laminitis Awareness Day’ which I am running on 10th July 2019. You can take part in webinars, Q+A sessions with our vets and there will be lots of free factsheets to download, it’s going to be an action packed day.
You can register for more details at the link HERE