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rocky pony 11-19-2009 08:58 PM

Laminitis?!! What??
The whole story, if interested or needed for reference:
So just earlier this year I bought a horse who had shoes on his front feet. Since I prefer my horses to be barefoot, I pretty quickly pulled his shoes so he could start adjusting to being without them. So he got pretty sore..I worked with a very highly recommended (and very expensive) farrier and we set him up with some hoof boots so that he could be weaned off of them slowly and allow his hooves to harden.
That's all well and good.
But this farrier was way too overpriced..and we didn't like him as much as our normal farrier (well, kind of our normal farrier, that situation has been complicated but that's another story) so we went back.

The important part:
Today, Kainne saw our preferred farrier for the first time, and he says that he has laminitis in his front feet. (well that explains the shoes. too bad the previous owner "forgot" about that bit of information...)
That was a bit of a shock.
Unfortunately, I only know very little about laminitis and am trying to learn more as quickly as possible so that I can do all I can for him.
We'll be calling the vet tomorrow and asking a few questions and having him come out, but it takes him awhile to come out.
So basically, what should I know about it? What things should I be doing? What things shouldn't I be doing?
Right now he's out in his stall wearing his easyboots. He's been pretty sensitive for awhile since we pulled the shoes, but they really help keep him from being sore. He moves totally fine in them and shows no visible signs of discomfort as long as he's wearing the boots.

Should I go ahead and put the shoes back on? Or should I continue trying to adjust him to barefoot? Some of the things I read said that laminitic horses could benefit from being barefoot..but I really don't know enough about it yet to make that decision.
Any help you can give is very much appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

starlinestables 11-19-2009 10:01 PM

You'll get a ton of helpful replies but here are my two cents. :D

Laminitis is when the hoof wall separates from the underlying sensitive laminae. They are sort of connected like velcro. There are a few things that can cause laminitis...when too much sugar is ingested can aggravate little microbials in the hindgut which die and basically allow toxins to enter the blood stream. The hoof doesn't have great circulation in the first place and thus causes the separation to occur. This can also happen when toxins are absorbed through the skin and hooves. Repeated concussion will also cause the separation. Whether or not founder occurs is often dependent on the degree of separation so if it's significant you should have a vet do xrays.

I would say stick with the boots and wean him off. Make sure he has a good low sugar diet and a hoof supplement couldn't hurt.... I don't think it was the previous owners fault though... if your farrier is just now noticing it then its probably something that happened under your care (not saying you did anything wrong on purpose though). He's just going to have to grow new feet! Good luck!

Ryle 11-19-2009 10:32 PM

Laminitis can't be diagnosed by a farrier and without x-rays. So, before you go making too many decisions it's time to get your vet involved and have a lameness exam and x-rays of the feet.

barefoothooves 11-19-2009 11:05 PM

First, I do feel that a hoof care provider should be able to spot founder/laminitis in a heart beat, without x-rays! We can't tell you the extent of the damage, but we should see that there IS damage already there or is happening.

That being said, your first farrier should have caught the founder before pulling shoes, unless it's happened since the horse was in his new home. A new diet, stress, etc can all contribute to a laminitic attack.

Laminitis is the actual inflammation, founder is the separation of the hoof wall from the bone, and both can happen together, or independent of each other. Chronic laminitis causes a lot of horizontal ripples in the wall, not always enough to really cuase separation, necessarily, but it's painful. Founder can happen without inflammtion-such as with White Line Disease or poor trimming/shoeing.

The previous owner's farrier may not have told them the horse had founder issues. It's suprising how many foundered hroses I starte working on and the previous farrier would have never described them as such. These horses frequently have flared hooves (dished) or flat, thin, or even bulging soles and are often shod with bar shoes or pads because they are lame in plain shoes. So if anything, I'd blame farriers in this instance.

I would recommend having diagnotics done by a vet to see the extent of hte damage and to help your usual farrier devise a trimming method to get your horse sound quicker. A new hoof does have to grow down, but exercise is the quickest way, along with proper trimming and PROTECTION of the foot.

A foundered foot cannot be expected to just "toughen up" on the rocks. The hoof is compromised, and boots with pads should be used or keep the horse on soft, firm footing without rocks. The sole is too likely to bruise and abscess (which is not only painful but can cause major setbacks).

Metal shoes, (bars and pads included) do not help much. They suspend the hoof by the very structure tha is compromised, and often let the sole drop even farther. The rigid support of the bar shoe does not allow adequate the hoof to function properly, in spite of it's "Support", so avoid it.

There are new materials available to help a foundered horse recover quicker, and you should talk to your hoof care provider. Vets aren't always up to date on the latest tools, by the way. They are busy keeping up with whole body science, and hoof care providers are more apt to know about the latest stuff for hooves. I say this because I inform vets of new things all the time and they just can't keep up with the technology or have no experience with it like a farrier/trimmer would. Vets are great, but it takes the vet AND the hoof care provider working as a team.

I don't see this as a death sentence, just a set back. Best wishes for you and your horse.

starlinestables 11-19-2009 11:35 PM

Exactly what barefoot hooves said.. I was too busy watching bones to write a book. :o) Anyway, founder and laminitis are interchangable these days although they are technically two different conditions.. however I though laminitis was the actual separation and founder was the rotation of the bone.. but its been a while since I went to school.. I whipped out the ol' txt book and this is what it says...

"Although laminities may be defined as an inflamation of the laminae of the foot, that definition is a gross oversimplification of a complicated, interrelated sequence of events that results in varying degrees of foot disease. Research suggests that laminitis is a disease characterized by a decrease of blood flow through the capillarieis within the laminae, a passage of blood direction from arteries to veins (areriovenous shunt-ing) bypassing the capillary network and resulting in death of the laminae, and pain. Reaserch in the last decade also indicates that the food disease is only a local expression of a much braoder, systemic problem that can affect the circulatory and hormonal systems, the kidneys, the blood clotting mechanisim, and the horse's overal acid-base balance. Although many of the predisposing factors that cause laminitis have been identified, it appears that they all trigger a final common pathway that results in foot disease. In some cases, the damage is severe enough to result in rotation and possibly "sinking" of the coffin bone."

Also laminitis occurs more often than we think.. Often times it goes un-noticed. A vet can help you determine the severity. Again I second the previous post.. Boots are the better option however remember to give him plenty of time out of the boots whenever possible. Prolonged moisture can actually warp hoof growth therefore causing weakness I have first hand experience on that one.

rocky pony 11-20-2009 06:21 AM

noticing a trend here..before reading on I must note: he was basically a rescue. the previous owner was a (bad) horse broker who lied to me on multiple accounts about this horse. when I brought him home, he was in a pretty bad way. so I can say with 99.9% certainty that this is something that happened in her care..
but moving on.

rocky pony 11-20-2009 06:29 AM

okay now I can comment.
thank you guys so much =) I definitely will be having the vet out's just that sometimes it's near impossible to get him, he's one of two vets covering my entire area which is full of horses and cattle and leads to a lot of very impatient horse owners with unhappy horses. definitely not the best situation, but unfortunately we're stuck with it D=

I'm just very confused about what the farrier was saying. I'm feeling pretty impatient about getting the vet out because what he said was so unclear. basically what he said was that it looked like he had foundered "at some point in the past" and it sounded like he was describing something that happened quite awhile ago, and that he was laminitic. I'm a little unclear..would it be something that he would go on with forever? if he's saying that this was stuff that happened a long time ago that he's seeing evidence of now, that is..that's what's throwing me off.

starlinestables 11-20-2009 09:46 AM

Laminitis could've occurred with his previous owner AND/or it could've happened with you as well when you took off his shoes or changed his diet.. but no one is trying to blame you. :o)

It takes on average 9mo-1 yr to grow a new foot so unless there were major coffin bone changes what he's looking at happened within that time frame other than that its impossible to tell you for sure when exactly it happened because laminitis can effect small portions of the hoof or the entire hoof at any given time.

xxBarry Godden 11-20-2009 10:58 AM

Previously some good advice on the reasoning for laminitis and foot treatment - interesting.

However noone has yet mentioned diet - especially for a horse which may have been underfed previously as a result of poor treatment.

We in the UK have a constant problem in the grass growing season - too much good fresh green grass brings on laminitis in horses especially ponies.

In the season I personally measure my mare's waistline 3 to 4 times a week and I feel her crest to make sure it is not hardening.

DIDI gets chaff, even barley straw in the Spring, so as to reduce the calory intake. SHe also gets low calory specially formulated feed (called Safe & Sound)to be fed along with chaff (HiFi light) - a mix of barley straw, chopped grass and alfalfa. Your feed merchant should be able to advise you locally.

It is a tightrope walking exercise because if she doesn't get enough food, then she runs the risk of colic. If she gets too much green grass in the Spring, then for sure she would be prone to laminitis. This is always a problem with "good doers"

After a time one can judge when the grass is too rich - I then divide the field up with portable electrified fencing. Each day the fence is moved over by a strip to allow the horse access to a limited amount of grass.
Even today, because of some freakish weather conditions, DiDi's field is divided so as to restrict her grazing over what will be a 7 hour grazing cycle.

It is all very time consuming but "no feet=no horse".

I do hope your horse gets better.

Barry G

loosie 11-21-2009 02:46 AM

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Can you send us some hoof pics? A variety of angles - front- & side-on from near ground level, sole straight on & sighting down from heel to toe is best.

Diet is the no. 1 consideration for avoiding or preventing further laminitic attacks which can lead to founder(the mechanical progression). I would avoid grain, sweetened feed, and ensure he's getting a good supplement & perhaps extra magnesium too(I'd do a diet analysis to work it out). What is his diet & management regime now?

If the horse is kept bare & trimmed frequently(enough to *keep* the feet in good shape, rather than allow them to overgrow before trimming) & well in order to relieve the disconnected walls from ground pressure, if there is sufficient sole, that should alleviate the discomfort & enable the development of a healthy foot. BUT generally the sole is also rather flat & thin by the time the problem is diagnosed(not to mention generally weak heels), and while relieving the walls is necessary to allow strong growth to begin, this causes the horse to take even more pressure on his soles. He may therefore require padding to protect his sensitive soles & allow him to exercise comfortably. The more exercise the better, but to do it without protection may lead to stone bruises & abscesses. & are 2 great resources for learning about hoof function & effects of laminitis & the likes. Among many other good sites & resources. I'd advise you do your homework & learn as much as possible about it, so you can make informed decisions & get an idea of how knowledgeable & good, bad or otherwise your 'experts' of choice(farrier, etc) are doing.

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