Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Sheesh, this thread has gone to hell fast...
I am going through this with my horse at the moment - I have him boarded and we still had snow cover on the ground when he foundered, so there was absolutely no fresh grass whatsoever. He also was on 100% grass hay with 0% alfalfa, and he received no oats or other carbs at all. He still foundered. Vet thinks it's most likely a metabolic issue, but wants to wait with testing till the acute inflammatory phase is over, since that might impair the test results.
There are two threads about this right now in the "Hoof Care" section with lots of good info and several people who have gone through this.
In our case, my horse got better on Bute right after he had the laminitic episode, and then got A LOT worse after he'd been trimmed by the farrier. This was 2.5 weeks ago, and he is still quite bad clinically. So we have a long road ahead of us till recovery.
If I were you (Original poster) I would get x-rays done of his feet to see if there is any rotation of the coffin bone. This will greatly determine the prognosis for riding in the future, but for now I wouldn't even think of riding, but work towards reducing the inflammation and not doing more damage than is already done. Laminitis without rotation has the best prognosis, then laminitis with rotation (the higher degree the rotation, the worse the prognosis), and the worst is sinking of the coffin bone.
The info you can get on founder treatment is pretty confusing.
Medication - Bute, Banamine or other anti-inflammatories are mostly used in the acute, painful stage. They reduce the inflammation (which is destructive to the laminae) and the pain. The risk is that your horse will feel better than he acutally is and will be moving around too much on compromised laminae. So potentially he could do more damage, because he can't feel the pain.
Thyroid hormones are sometimes recommended for horses with metabolic problems. There is also a prescription herbal mix called "Hot Hoof" (there is 1 and 2 - 2 is for the acute stage and 1 for the treatment in the recovery stage). I don't have experience with either, but talk to your vet about it.
Movement - Some feel that the horse should be on stall rest in thick bedding during the acute phase, others feel that the horse should be moving around again as soon as possible.
Hoof Care - get your horse the best hoof care possible, and get him trimmed every 4 weeks. This is VERY important. A bad trim, or trimming too much too fast, can screw your horse up majorly (ask me how I know :( ). Even a farrier with lots of credentials sometimes makes mistakes, but DON'T bring in someone with no experience with laminitic horses.
Again, there are differing opinions on shoes. If you decide to go with shoes, most use bar shoes with or without a frog support, and take weight off the toe (e.g. with shoes that are open in the front). Especially if they take pressure of the toe and sole, shoes can provide quick relief. But they also load the hoof wall more than leaving the horse barefoot, which can damage already compromised laminae even more. So it's a double-edged sword.
With my horse, we decided to leave him barefoot for now and go with boots that have gel inserts. Time will tell whether that is the right decision.
Again, riding shouldn't be your first concern right now - getting through this laminitis episode, and preventing this from happening in the future should be. Depending if there is rotation, and if yes, how much, I would probably wait till the hoof wall has grown out once (~8 months).