I wanted to write about metabolic issues in horses today as nearly every horse I have seen or helped this year as had some form of metabolic challenge brought upon by all this deadly cow-grass they are eating, that is full of both unsuitable sugars for our horses, as well as high levels of myco-toxins, all of which threaten both our horses sanity and health.
However I see there is much that is still not understood about the risk to our horses as when I speak to most people about Laminitis, I still mostly hear this ERRONEOUS belief that it only affects fat little ponies that have been allowed to over-eat, which I can assure you is not true, as this most painful and debilitating condition can affect ANY horse, at ANY time, when the conditions are unfavourable and if inflammation within the body is not managed correctly, whether that be a huge draft horse, or an athletic arab, or a full time dressage horse, or even a tb off the track...and every other type and breed of horse you can think of too.
So what causes laminitis and what actually is it...
Firstly we need to understand what the lamina is.....which is part of the internal structure of the inside of the hoof itself, that is composed of tissues, nerves and hundreds of small blood vessels that connect the hoof capsule to the leg, which literally suspends the horse’s entire body weight within the hoof capsule so the health of the lamina is of the utmost importance hence sayings such as "no hoof no horse" have come about.
So Laminitis is the inflammation of that lamina.... and this condition ranges from a mild soreness showing foot tenderness progressing to the inability to walk, increased digital pulses, and increased temperature in the hooves, so please don't think that just because your horse is not rocking back on his heels in the laminitic stance, that he doesn't have any inflammation in the laminae, as this often goes unnoticed in the early stages but is so critical to good health for our horses.
This inflammation to the lamina damages the connective tissues that bond the hoof capsule to the horse's leg, creating this absolutely horrific condition that we know of called laminitis, which is very painful, and can even bring the horses leg bones through the base of the hoof capsule so this is a very serious condition indeed.
There are several reasons that the lamina become inflamed, which are noted below:
PHYSICAL SHOCK-this type of laminitis is often referred to as Mechanical Laminitis, and is caused when the horse's hoof or leg is subjected to physical trauma, causing injury, or sometimes it comes from a displaced behaviour such as constant pawing etc..., It is often seen in horses that use metal horse shoes which can cause concussion, jarring and shock to the legs and joints -and therefore inflammation to the lamina too.....however we are seeing the use of rubber hoof boots as an effective shock absorbing alternative to metal shoes these days, which is thought to be showing a reduction in laminitis along with other ailments of the hoof such as navicular syndromes too due to their flexibility along with the ability to allow movement of the natural hoof, as well as the shock absorbing properties -see this link to find out more about rubber hoof boots.... http://www.naturalhorsemanship.co.nz/SHOP-HOOF-BOOTS.html
MYCO-TOXIN INTAKE-myco-toxins such asLolitrem B and Egovaline, which are the two nasty grass toxins that are our horses are being exposed to from most of our NZ grasses, have now grown to an epidemic scale, so it's often due to the intake of these two nasty endophytes which cause inflammation within the body that can trigger laminitis too, because as the horses system become stressed through the intake of these slow poisons caused by these toxic fungi, this can often lead to laminitis as part of the attack on the central nervous system-to address this risk we advise to restrict green grass intake and feed hay over grass, along with a daily toxin binder-see this link to find high quality toxin binders http://www.naturalhorsemanship.co.nz/SHOP-TOXIN-BINDERS-SUPPLEMENTS.html HIGH SUGAR/STARCH DIET-a diet high in green grass, or grain is often the trigger of this type of laminitis as horses are designed to live off low sugar forage such as tussock grasses and not rich green cow grass as we mostly feed them, which causes inflammation within the body and often the lamina-see this link for our ANTI-INFLAMMATION DIET....
METABOLIC ISSUES /DISEASE-some horses have a higher need for low sugar brown grass diets than others, such as those with insulin resistance, or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction-also known as Cushing's Disease, or Equine Metabolic Syndrome(EMS), though we have found that 99% of horses will benefit from being fed like this-see the link below for our recommended feeding guide.....
POST-OPERATIVE LAMINITIS-horses can sometimes suffer from laminitis after coming out of an operations, which is due to inflammation caused by stress to the body during surgery-this should be address by feeding low inflammation feeds, which again all horses can benefit from-ANTI INFLAMMATION DIET can be found here.....
MINERAL/VITAMIN IMBALANCES:Just like us, if your horse is lacking in certain minerals that are missing from his diet, this can cause stress within the body, which in turn can cause a host of medical issues including inflammation and therefore laminitis.....so please make sure your horse is being fed a balanced mineral/vitamin supplement as rarely do horses get all they need nutritionally from living in a domestic situation-for high quality equine minerals/vitamins see this link.... http://www.naturalhorsemanship.co.nz/SHOP-TOXIN-BINDERS-SUPPLEMENTS.html
Photo shows our Pony Laddy-who is a very high risk horse due to him being in his mid to late twenties....and having Cushing's syndrome for nearly a decade ...which unaffects his quality of life without any issues, due to following the guidelines talked about above. People who meet Laddy think he is half his age,as he's in fantastic shape and health, and this is due to a low sugar diet, with the use of our quality minerals/vitamins and toxin binder.