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Handsome Horse France 2018. Part of Handsome Horse.


Laminitis is a condition that not many horse owners have not worried about at one time or another.

There are many causes of Laminitis and effectively it would be wrong to point it directly at  spring grass.

Vets from countries all over the world have extensively studied thousands of horses and ponies to create comprehensive information that can be found on the internet and books. Here we have taken a selection of the information to bring you a small insight

From  different schools of thought.


Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae.

The hoof wall is made up of an interlinked outer inensitive layer (the horn) supported by an underlying inner sensitive layer (the laminae) In laminitis, the blood flow to the laminae is affected, resulting in inflammation and swelling in the tissues within the hoof and severe pain. As the laminae is starved of oxygen and nutrient rich blood, the cells become damaged. Unless the cause is removed and treatment is started straight away the sensitive laminae can begin to die.

The laminae is responsible for supporting the pedal bone in the hoof and thus the weight of the horse. In severe cases of laminitis the pedal bone can sink and rotate due to the inability of the damaged laminae to support and from the pull of the deep digital flexor tendon. If the pedal bone sinks to far it can be seen to protrude from the sole of the foot. In many cases this is irreversible, however some cases it can be treated, although it will take a lot of time, patience and money.


There are many causes of Laminitis and many people who don’t agree with others peoples findings. At the end of the day, is it not better to look into all the probables when trying to find out the reasons why and not just put it down to one or two reasons??

* Traumatic laminitis - repeated physical    trauma to feet durng e.g endurance,    driving, jumping on hard ground

* Over enthusiastic hoof trimming

* Stress - chemical imbalance

* Obesity dependant laminitis

* Insulin resistance

* Nutrition induced laminitis - carb    overload

Other factors -



*excessive weight bearing

* concussion

* fillies & mares coming into season    (hormones)

* cold weather

* Colic

* infections

* Toximia

* retained placenta

* drug inducement


If you suspect your horse has gone down with laminitis, treat this as an emergency. The quicker your horse can receive treatment the better their chances are for recovery.

Laminitis is just as much as an emergency as colic.

* call your Vet or Farrier immediately*

The vet can prescribe pain killers, examine the horses feet to confirm the diagnosis and offer advise on diet and treatment.

The Farrier is also an excellent port of call , they are fully trained in horses feet and will be able to perform remedial treatment.

Treating your Laminitic Horse

One of the first things to do when treating a laminitic horse is to restrict turnout.

Obviously this can cause many issues for those owners who do not have access to stabling. In this case create a small pen using electric tape for restriction. Make up a deep non edible footing to help support the feet

Treatment from your farrier is paramount. Make sure your farrier is fully qualified, they spend many years studying to structures of the hooves. The old adage “no foot, no horse” is a lot more than a wives tale!

Contact your vet for any drugs you may need i.e bute and advice of dosage or a visit should you not be able to contact your farrier.

STOP feeding all grain based feeds and pasture.

DO NOT STARVE YOUR HORSE!  It is recommended that a horse will need forage of hay/grass of between 1.2% and 1.5% (2% for the very large breeds) of the bodyweight daily. For  example a 500kg horse, will 5.9kg-10kg. Avoiding feeding less than 1%.

Low quality, low sugar forage. Balance the diet with a low dose rate of vitamins and minerals supplement and a good quality protein from full fat soya bean or similar.

After treating the initial bout of laminitis, it can be managed by Turnout 1-3 hours a day and late at night after 10pm or early morning before 10am. Avoiding frosts, as this increases the fructins in the grass.

Exercise is now considered a good thing as it will increase the blood flow to the hooves. In the case of severe bouts of laminitis, this may not always be possible.

Cold hosing the feet can be considered as an aid to reduce the heat and offer a short term relief for the horse but it is not a fix.

Alfalfa Hay or chaff is an excellent addition to most horses diets, even those that are insulin resistant. It is lower in starch and sugar than most grass hays, with a higher protein content, however this does make it more calorific.

You can give them feeds specifically for metabolic issues or a ratio balancer.

There are many supplements on the market, these are not drugs and thus do not come under the regulations of medicines act. They are considered to be feed additives and are loosely regulated under the feeding stuffs regulations.As such they are not allowed to claim they prevent, cure or treat laminitis , although the majority are produced from reputable companies  with long histories of horse health care and specific ingredients can be of great value.


These can be used with a combined sugar/starch of no more than 10%-12%

Magnesium and chromium both assist insulin and glucose dynamics, with zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin E, iondonised salt are also high up there. Essential amino acids such as Lysine, methionine and thereonine are often found in the suitable feeds.

Feeds such as micronised linseed is also an excellent choice for feeding the laminitic horse, this contains low starch, low sugar, high protein, its high in omega oils 3,6 & 9 , it has anti-inflammatory properties and is highly palatable for most horse. Many of the supplement and balancer producers use linseed as an ingredient.

We have found a great link to a guide for feeding the laminitic horse, which offers feeding guidelines, body scoring and top tips, take a look for yourself at URL: http://eastkentequine.uk/ems_diet

We also recommend calling your feed brand help lines for more guidance.

Here is a list of feeds that are suitable for use on a laminitic horse or pony. Please check the relevant feed websites for more information on feeding status. (U -underweight laminitic)

Allen & Page   Fast Fibre - “L” Mix - Veteran Light

Baileys - No.14 Lo-Cal Balancer - No.19 Performance Balancer - No.21 Ease & Excel - Keep Calm

             Light Chaff - Alfalfa plus oil (U) -Speedi-Beet - Fibre-beet

Blue Chip- Lami-light

Dengie - Alfa A molasses free - Hi-Fi lite - Hi-Fi molasses free - Healthy Hooves - Alfa Beet

             Healthy Hooves molasses free

Dodson & Horrell - Cushcare - Fibergy - Safe & Sound - Kwik-beet

Saracen - Shape up - Essentials balancer

Spillers - High Fibre cubes - Speedy fibre mash - Happy Hoof - Happy Hoof molasses free

              Daily Fibre - Lite & lean Balancer

Top Spec - Anti-Lam balancer - Cool condition cubes - Topchop Alfa

Fibre-beet     Coolstance Coprameal    Micronised linseed

Supplements - Baileys Digest plus - D&H lami-free - Global Herbs Lami-pro - GWF X-Lam pellets

    NAF Laminaze


Disclaimer - The details contained within this article  are for information purposes only. This does not replace  any professional advise. The material has been sourced from articles from vets, farriers, associations, organisations and feed manufacturers. No responsibility will be taken for the acuracy, no liability is accepted for damages arising from  use, reference or reliance on any information given. We will always recommend that you seek a consultation from professional bodies, vet & Farriers.

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