LAMINITIS- WHAT PART OF GETTING THEM OFF THE GRASS DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?
Many years ago I rescued my first laminitic horse. I remember how much of a baptism of fire this was, as I had previously had very little to do with laminitis up until then.
So after researching this condition, and with advice from my vet, I prepared my open barn with deep shavings and gave the horse in question a little taped off area at the front of it that was sparsely covered in grass, and fed hay and Bute etc....and waited for the recovery.
Which despite my best efforts just did not happen??
This was most upsetting and confusing for me on why the horse wasn't getting any better but as I had also just taken the plunge into going barefoot for the first time too, I decided to consult my trimmer and asked her "I'm not sure why he isn't getting better"
After my trimmer assessed what I thought was a sparse balding paddock that this horse was being kept in, she told me rather brutally "what part of getting him off the grass is it that you don't understand'?
It feels so funny to read this now, as I remember that I was pretty shocked and upset by this statement as I felt it was really unfair, as I had really tried to do so much for the horse in question ....and I protested that my vet had said that this approach was fine and that there was so little grass in the area....so surely he would be ok????
Now 13 years on, and I'm the one using that statement as after being involved in rehabilitating hundreds of laminitic horses since that time as my job working with rescue horses and helping people with so many of their horses too, and I know only too well that my trimmers brutal advice was so right after studying equine behaviour and nutrition, and working hands on to educate about laminitis.
Because the bottom line is that laminitis is a deadly disease topped only by colic for equine death rates, and even a single blade of green grass is too much for the horse who is actively foundering due to carbohydrate induced laminitis.
To put this into layman's terms, this is due to the active fructans that are present in green grass, which are cellulose based sugars that convert to glucose, that cause changes in insulin levels, which in turn create mass inflammation within the laminae, that when stressed like that can no longer support the leg bone that drops through the base of the hoof, which is the main reason of why a horse gets laminitis in the first place, along with mycotoxin induced endotoxin overload, so please use a toxin binder too which we have seen great results with to also combat laminitis.
It's particularly bad over here in Nz because we have the "WRONG" types of grasses, as 90% of our grass all over the country is made up of sugary, mycotoxic cow grasses of perennial ryes, all designed to pack weight on dairy and beef cows quickly for maximum profits, and sadly due to that it's deadly to our horses, whose systems can't cope with all these lolly grasses as they have evolved to live off very low sugar grasses so this all becomes too much for the horses system, and laminitis ensues
So therefore due to this information, the only hope of recovery for the equine suffering from this most painful and distressing condition of laminitis, or founder as it's also called, is to get them off All grass to give them a chance to get better .... despite what other well meaning people may tell you, including your Vets, which is a real worry!
Because shockingly most equine Vets are not savvy about laminitis at all in general as surprisingly they do not learn about laminitis in their training to become a vet at Massey University. Which just seems mad to me??
We are lucky as we have great vets here but I can't tell you how many cases of vet ignorance I personally deal with all over New Zealand every week, whilst helping people with their horses, where the vets give poor advice such as to put a foundering horse back on the grass paddock that has
made the horse sick in the first place....and then the horse continues to suffer. I'm just appalled by it
I often wonder if our vets can't get it together on this subject no wonder horse owners are confused???
All horses of all ages, breeds and sizes can get laminitis.
So how do you help a horse to make a full recovery from grass induced laminitis:
1-Take the horse off the offending grass immediately - all of it!
2-Feed low sugar meadow hay, preferably rinsed to reduce even more sugars, fed from a slow feed haynet 24/7 as to replicate grazing until the active bout of laminitis has subsided, and only then is limited grass permitted to be very gradually introduced. Do not restrict the hay-allow the horse to eat as much as he or she likes but slowly through a slow feeder net. Restricting hay can lead to digestive and emotional stress, and therefore in turn more inflammation and ulcers.
3- use Bute for the short term as pain relief and to reduce inflammation and then use a natural anti inflammatory such as Devils Claw, which is much easier on the stomach.
4- have light non invasive weekly hoof trims to improve comfort and reduce the pressure
5-try to offer a soft area to stand in - we use pea gravel combined with sharp sand at a cost of around $20 per trailer load from our local aggregates merchant-about 2/3 inches 50/75 mm deep is enough.
Laminitic horses will always be at a high risk of relapsing with this condition so strict grass management is required for future success.
This is where track grazing can help and if you can't do that then strip graze but don't put at risk horses back out in a full time grass paddock. Or the condition will just come back and next time it could be fatal.
A useful tip to make a dry grass free lot is to tape off a small area and kill it off with salted water. Then apply sand and pea gravel or bark etc...
We hope this will help to provide sound info on laminitis to all horse owners, so you can make an informed decision on how to address it, and that all your horse days be safe and happy.
For more info and ideas on how to help with laminitis recovery including what to feed a laminitic horse, please see the next page titled Laminitis Recovery Info
Natural Horse Nz
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