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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I have a few questions about founder. What is it (in a more specific form, and I already know it's like, a sickness whenever horses it ponies eat too much. Correct me if I'm wrong)? How much does a horse/pony have to eat in order to get founder? How can you tell if a horse/pony has founder? Are some cases more deadly than others? I would like to know this because I want to know in a worst case scenario what I need to do or how I can tell if one of my ponies has founder. I also want to be a responsible horse owner. Thanks in advance!
 

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In a nutshell... (haha, yeah right.... but I'll try to keep it short)

'Founder' is the 'lay' term for Laminitis with mechanical changes. Some use those lables interchangeably, some think of them as different beasts.

Essentially, Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae - the connective tissue between hoof wall and internal foot. When this happens, if it's severe enough, or left untreated, and/or if there are mechanical stressors on the feet too(such as long toes, for eg), this can lead to breakdown of the connective tissue, allowing the foot/bone to 'sink'(origin of term founder) or 'rotate' within the capsule.

Laminitis *frequently* happens due to horses eating too much/too many carbs, chronically. Becoming obese & developing insulin resistance(IR), which is essentially the same as people developing type 2 diabetes. This is not a 'disease' as such, but a natural body function, and just like us, chronic 'good seasons' are just not good for any of us & we are healthier when a little on the light side, or at least, with regular 'hard seasons' to use up fat stores & 'reset' our metabolism, resensitise our bodies to insulin. So... IMHO we should treat all horses (& all people, & dogs & cats for that matter) as potential IR cases, and manage accordingly to avoid this 'lifestyle disease'.

It also can be due to nutritional balance. Other reasons for horses developing laminitis are serious stress, gut damage, grain overload, drugs, disease, and mechanical problems - such as 'road founder' or 'supporting limb laminitis', and bad or negligent hoof care & shoeing, etc.

These days, with good management & time, horses can *generally* get over 'founder'. But not always - the 'worst case scenario' is still death, the horse having to be put down due to incurable(or unacceptable level) of suffering. But getting a horse through this takes a lot of time, effort, experienced care & often money, as well as the suffering the horse must endure, and they also may never return to complete soundness, may always need special management thereafter, so it is always better to manage to avoid, rather than 'wait & see'.
 

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But getting a horse through this takes a lot of time, effort, experienced care & often money, as well as the suffering the horse must endure, and they also may never return to complete soundness, may always need special management thereafter, so it is always better to manage to avoid, rather than 'wait & see'.
A big yes to everything @loosie said but I can certainly attest to this part, with one of my horses.

First and foremost a lot of trying to find a farrier who actually knows how to care for foundered hooves and also will listen to the lameness vet’s instructions instead of doing what they want. Many “great” farrier’s are not so great when a horse needs therapeutic hoof care.

A lot of money.
A lot of hands on time.

A lot of tears and frustration watching the horse struggle to come out the other side pain free but never totally recover.

A lot of figuring out a diet that works while still allowing the horse to have a lifestyle that allows him to be a horse.

It isn’t fun and is sure isn’t cheap either.
 

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Oh OP you also asked for signs...

Acute 'attacks' of founder tends to come on suddenly, make the horse very lame, rock back in the classic 'founder stance', have a 'bounding digital pulse'.

Chronic laminitis tends to come to a head when hooves have become quite distorted, often high heels and turned up toes. Or maybe 'splat footed' flat or even bulging soles, flared- disconnected hoof walls....

BUT it doesn't(aside from rarely, drug induced for eg) come on like that out of the blue, without warning. I believe if only people learned what healthy hooves(& horses) should be like, then they would recognise the minor signs and manage accordingly to avoid the vast majority of clinical cases.

Some 'minor' or 'mild' 'signs' are horse being overweight long term, gut probs, fed high sugar/grain diet, prominent horizontal rings or ridges in hooves, flat toe soles, disconnection/stretching of the walls, hoof abscesses, more than one in a blue moon type affairs, horse being 'ouchy' on paved surfaces or after a trim(tho latter can of course be farrier error too).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the responses! I definitely know more now and I am very grateful you gave me this information. I will do more research about founder and whatever else I can. Again, thanks so much!
 

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When I was a kid, I had a pony that got out and went into a cornfield and ate too much corn. He became sick as he was beginning to founder. He was one sick pony.
One of our neighbors came down and started digging a rectangular area in the soil that was big enough for the pony to stand in comfortably, and sunk four post holes at each corner of the hole. He then attached three boards on the sides much like a standing stall. We led the pony inside the area, and started filling the hole with water up to his fetlocks or a little above.

This kept the high fever out of his feet until he was out of danger. His feet were perfect once he came out of the founder and you could not tell that he had gone through it.
 

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I moved from North to South and as a result (so many different influences) over time, both my horses developed laminitis and eventually (spring shots reaction in both) foundered badly. It takes 1 yr of health to fully regrow the hoof but the damage and fear of recurrence will remain throughout their life.

Here is some info from an ad for 'Laminil' which is copied with mention to Laminil taken out... https://www.horseforum.com/redirect...minil-mobile/how-does-laminil-stop-laminitis/

Laminitis is an inflammatory response to stress. It’s simple and complex.

Like many diseases and conditions, laminitis occurs when an immune system response to stress goes wrong and starts a cascade of biochemical processes that cause inflammation and destruction of the foot. Mast cells play a key role in that cascade by releasing histamine and other inflammatory mediators, such as neutrophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages. These inflammatory agents, in turn, activate pro-inflammatory cytokines (cell-signaling proteins) that incite inflammation. Cytokines also inhibit growth factor receptors and the expression of genes involved in hoof growth and maturity. Thus, the inflammatory response both destroys cells and stops cell replacement.

A laminitis stressor can be a biological agent, environmental condition, or other external stimulus that causes stress to the animal. The animal responds to the stressor as a threat, which elicits the flight-or-fight immune system response that starts the laminitis cascade.

Laminitis stressors include grain overload, grass founder, equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, colic, Cushings, Potomac Fever, retained placenta, steroids, vaccinations, concussion from work on hard ground, a long trailer ride, and accident.

In cases of grain, grass, and other environmental conditions, the stressor must be removed completely and immediately. The immune response and laminitis cascade will continue as long as the animal is exposed to the stressor, regardless of the quantity of exposure. Reducing the amount of the stressor will not stop the cascade.

In cases of hay laminitis where there has been no change in diet, the animal may have received too much forage and might be diagnosed as Equine Metabolic Syndrome or EMS, which is associated with obesity. Just reducing the amount of the same hay will not stop the laminitis process. The current hay has to be stopped immediately and completely. A different hay can be given in reduced amount.

Founder occurs when there is inflammation of the laminae (folds of tissue connecting the pedal bone to the hoof).

When there is inflammation and subsequently degeneration (as is seen in an interruption to the blood supply) of the laminae, laminitis results. The damage may be so severe that the pedal bone is no longer supported within the hoof and rotates toward and sometimes through the sole of the hoof.

When people say that the hoof "rotates", what actually is happening is the shrinking/dying of the laminae which hold the hoof wall onto the pedal bone. So instead of thinking of the hoof rotating, rather realize the it is actually sloughing and can slough off entirely; even with this terrible event, a horse can still "recover" with a lot of care.

Just a horrible health issue which is best caught as early as possible due to its life-long ramifications.

I hope this helps.
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Hmm, regarding above, a few things....

First & foremost, it is NOT due only to 'immune system response gone wrong'. Mechanical laminitis/founder for eg. can be from purely mechanical cause, such as laminae being torn, or incorrect/insufficient hoof care(one very big factor not even mentioned) for eg.

They don't bother to say what it is about 'hay founder'(never heard that lable before) that means a change of forage is necessary, or what to change to.

They also say that laminitis results from inflammation & degeneration, while I think it's more accurate to say Laminitis IS inflammation of the laminae, which can, if not treated appropriately, result in degeneration, breakdown, rotation or sinking of P3...

The ad also makes it unclear whether they're using the term founder as interchangeable with laminitis, or thinking of it as a different beast.

And doesn't mention that 'rotation' is ostensibly caused from mechanics being incorrect - peripheral loading, lack of support under the foot, improper balance, etc... combined with laminitis is what causes rotation. It is very rare(but perhaps not impossible in case of catastrophic breakdown due to drugs, disease or such) for a horse to suffer rotation in absence of mechanical factors.

But as the above is an 'infomercial' for a product, they want to simplify & also make out their product will fix it...
 
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