Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
My gelding Leo foundered in early April this year (so five months ago), with about 2 degree rotation in the left and 3 degrees in the right hoof.
He was on bute for a week, almost walked normal again and was able to support himself standing on three legs, so the vet gave green light to go ahead with trimming. Unfortunately, the farrier who trimmed him (recommended and quite renown in the area) did a pretty bad job and after that, all hell broke loose. "In principle" he did things right (angles looked better, took back the toe and the heels), but he trimmed him so aggressively and the sole in the toe area was so thin that my gelding could barely walk afterwards. Both soles also bruised massively. We were afraid at first that the farrier damaged the flexor tendons, but luckily that wasn't the case. The soles were so thin and bruised and formed pockets that you could just press in with your finger.
We put him in SoftRide boots immediately, and the recovery was slow and painful for the horse. It took several weeks until he could walk again reasonably well, at which point I changed stables and farriers.
He was on grass hay only, rationed to 2% of bodyweight per day, plus a mineral / vitamin supplement and joint supplement.
In June / July we had about two months of peace and he went out with the herd during the night in a grazing muzzle and was in a dirt paddock during the day. He also lost a lot of weight in those four months and he got trimmed religiously every five weeks.
In the end of July, Leo suddenly was massively lame again on the front left. We called an emergency vet out, unfortunately not our regular vet (who was out of town). The guy was completely useless. He took to the hoof with a hoof tester, which made my gelding whince in pain and almost go down, only to tell me in the end what I already knew (that he had foundered and had a thin sole). He suspected more rotation and the coffin bone coming through the sole, but since he didn't bring an x-ray machine there was no way to confirm that. In the end, all we did was put him back on bute and two days later my gelding was walking reasonably well again.
Leo had two more episodes of lameness after that, both on the front right this time. Our regular vet came out - this time with an x-ray machine, and both the angles as well as the regrowth of the sole looked really good. He suspected circulatory problems and suggested a venigram at the clinic as soon as Leo was well enough to be transported. Back on bute... and nothing worked. Leo was lame and extremely painful for 1.5 weeks, until an abscess blew out at the coronary. Since then it's been going uphill again. He was actually cantering and bucking around in his paddock a few days ago.
Several times during this process, especially when he was in so much pain, I was afraid I would lose him, and was wondering whether I was making the right choice to keep him alive. But so far he's always come out of these episodes. We will see where it goes, but it looks not bad right now.
What I do realize, and what I think everyone with a laminitic horse should be aware of, is that it will probably take a lifelong commitment and dedication that goes well above the "regular" horse ownership (at least the way it's practiced here, where it's quite common to put the horses out in a field and go on vacation for a couple of weeks). My horse is 11 now, and will probably be a high(er) maintenance horse for the rest of his life. It will also be near impossible now to sell him (which I never intended anyways), and there might be times down the road where he can't be ridden. I knew about the risks of founder before, but very honestly, had I been fully aware of the consequences (as in - had I experienced them first hand), I would have been a lot more careful and picky about his boarding and feeding situation before he foundered. It would have saved him a lot of pain and me a lot of tears, heartache, and money...