Unfortunately, Laminitis season is already here. You may think its too early however with the warm weather we have clients horses already suffering.
Once Laminitis occurs, depending on the severity, it can be a death sentence for many horses. If they are lucky and dont have a catastrophic hoof failure, then rehabilitation is possible, however prevention is far preferable. Rehab takes dedication and a lot of time and expense, and for some horses, a full recovery may never be possible.
4 STEPS TO PREVENT LAMINITIS
STEP 1 - Maintain a healthy body condition score– Get familiar with where your horse sits on the Henneke scale and monitor them closely over the next few months. They should sit between 4-6 (out of 9). This means that you should be able to feel the ribs and there should be no obvious fat deposits on the crest, shoulders or tail head.
Photo Insert: Regions to keep an eye on to determine body condition.
STEP 2 - Exercise your horses and create living conditions that encourage movement. Exercise is THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO PREVENT LAMINITIS!
Ride, lead, chase, drive – whatever you have to do to get them moving! Formal exercise is deemed to be a minimum of 20 minutes of trotting or similar at least 3-4 times a week, this is very important for at risk horses.
Informal exercise includes encouraging independent movement, a track system can assist here, keep them in a herd to encourage movement, a bossy mare can help!
Photo Insert: Obese horse showing classic fat pads on crest, shoulders and tail head. This horse is a ticking time bomb!
STEP 3 - Diet – Reduce Iron intake, limit sugars and balance the mineral profile.
Restrict grazing without restricting movement and balance the mineral intake.
Test the primary forage for sugars if you can, or choose grass hay known to be lower in sugar like native or mixed species, avoid improved pasture hay like Rye.
If you can’t perform a hay test to determine sugars and mineral intake, feed a high-quality supplement that has good levels of Zinc and Copper and no added Iron – Missy’s Bucket is a good choice.
Add some magnesium to the daily ration as magnesium has been shown to help horses prone to Laminitis.
STEP 4 - Trim - Find a good trimmer and make sure the hooves are trimmed on a short cycle – in spring this means at least every 4 weeks. This is also handy to have a second set of experienced eyes run over your horse and the hooves. The hooves are quick to change with the onset of Laminitis but it can take a trained eye to see the signs!
It is, essentially, that easy! But we know that sometimes these steps can be difficult to put in place and with all the conflicting info out there it can be hard to know where to start!