Unfortunately, many of the following symptoms of Laminitis are considered normal. Many horse owners, even equine professionals, will ignore these symptoms unless the horse is actually lame. However, they can all indicate serious pathology in the hooves and be a sign of things to come. Assess your horses' hooves for the signs of Laminitis and take measures to stop it getting worse.
TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A LAMINITIC HOOF:
Steeper hoof wall growth at the hairline when compared to the toe
Stress or growth rings
Divergent growth rings – closer at the toe than at the heel
White line stretching and separation
Here are a few photos of typical laminitic hooves displaying some of the characteristics listed above. Some are more obvious than others!
The picture below may not look as severe as the previous hooves, however, the separation in these hooves is a serious problem for hoof function and stability.
Flaring in hoof walls indicate a loss of laminar connection. If the laminar connection is healthy, tight and firm then the hooves won’t have a flare.
Often the dorsal wall flare – shown above – is easiest to see at first, but it may be necessary to really get down on the ground to see it! Sometimes it can be easier to take some photos to really assess flare, this is what I do anyway as I don’t like lying around on the ground for any period of time next to a horse! Get your camera down on the ground, and I mean actually rest it on the ground, and make sure your lens is aligned with the centre of the hoof. Snap away and assess the angles later on your computer. This is also a very good thing to do every couple of months, keep a record of your horses' hoof growth and you may find you see a pattern throughout the year.
The hoof above is showing severe quarter separation extending around to the toe, sometimes it can be seen at the toe only and may also be known as ‘Seedy Toe’ or ‘White line Disease’. Nothing you can do to the external part of this hoof will fix this problem. The fix needs to come from the inside – through proper diet and management – for this hoof to grow a better connection. It also will never ‘reattach’, instead the wall needs to ‘Grow in’ from the coronary band at the top.
Diet plays a pivotal role in the healthy growth of new hoof wall and laminar connection. Choose an excellent quality mineral mix such as Missy’s Bucket, provide a low sugar and starch diet and reduce Iron intake. Along with appropriate trimming and exercise, these steps will help your horse get through the dangers of Springtime Laminitis free.
Along with low sugar and starch diet, appropriate trimming and exercise, the high levels of Copper and Zinc in Missy’s Bucket will help to keep your horses' hooves at optimal health!
In the next article, we will be looking at a series of photos that clearly demonstrate how a hoof grows and see some examples of changes to the hoof wall that mirror management changes. Learn how to ‘Read’ your horses hoof wall.
Expert, quality trimming in and around Victoria
For more info on Laminitis including treatment, rehab and prevention, have a look at the book‘What is Laminitis? – A Practical, Step by Step Guide to Recovery’ written by Rebecca Scott and Zoe Messina. Available as an EBOOK
‘If your horse has laminitis, this is the FIRST book you should read! A review by Linda Whitfield Cowles – Equine rehab specialist.
Seedy Toe, also known as White Line Disease, is a fungal/bacterial infection that eats into the hoof via the white line, similar to thrush it is often worse in wet conditions. It is accompanied by other common hoof issues like hoof cracks, wall flares, frequent abscessing, flat and thin soles.
Thrush is the name that we tend to use for any type of fungal or bacterial infection of the horse’s frog. Its characterised by a foul-smelling and often white, grey or black sludgy residue in and around the frog and it can cause significant pain and tenderness in the area.