MANAGING ponies and horses that are prone to, or at risk of, Laminitis can be a minefield, especially during spring when grass is sprouting and pastures are lush. So here is a guide on how to manage and reduce the risk of Laminitis.
What is Laminitis?
Laminitis results from the disruption of blood flow to the sensitive and insensitive laminae. This causes inflammation, which weakens the laminae, resulting in lameness and, in severe cases, the coffin bone and the hoof wall may even separate.
Types of Laminitis:
1) Metabolic Laminitis – Equine Cushing’s Disease (PPID) and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), both conditions are associated with high levels of insulin in the bloodstream, which can be a cause of laminitis.
2) Inflammatory Laminitis – Hindgut upset, caused by sudden changes in the diet or when high levels of sugar and starch are broken down quickly in the hindgut, which leads to the absorption of these toxins into the bloodstream via the gut. The toxins disrupt blood flow to the laminae.
3) Overload Laminitis – Horses suffering with a non-weight bearing condition in one limb will cause overload to the other. It can also be caused by working on hard surfaces for prolonged periods, too much length of toe and improper shoeing or foot trimming.
Tips for avoiding Laminitis in the spring:
1) Make dietary changes slowly. For those stabled over the winter, time spent grazing needs to be gradually built up to allow the hindgut flora to adapt. Start by turning out for 30 minutes and increase this by 30-minute increments over several weeks until they are turned out for the desired time.
2) Avoid/ restrict grazing for horses at a high risk of laminitis on lush pasture. Use a grazing muzzle, only allow short periods of time to graze and use dry lots as means of increasing turnout without increasing calorie/ sugar intake.
3) Ensure your horse is maintained at a body condition score of 3. Horses that are overweight are more susceptible to laminitis due to insulin dysregulation.
4) Feed forage prior to turnout. Hungry horses are more likely to gorge when turned out, so it advisable to feed forage prior to being turned out to grass.
5) Safely increase exercise. Slowly build up your horse’s fitness as a means of burning more calories and helping regulate insulin levels within the blood.
6) Choose appropriate turnout times. Turn laminitis prone horses out in the early morning and evening, as this when the water-soluble carbohydrate levels are lowest.
When choosing concentrates for those prone to laminitis, it is vital to choose a feed that is high in fibre, low in starch, low in sugar and which won’t promote weight gain. We recommend feeding the Bluegrass Stamm 30 Balancer to good doers and those at risk of laminitis, as it provides all the necessary protein, vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet without providing high levels of starch/ sugar.
Another option would be the Bluegrass Re-Lite Cube, as it is the low-calorie option within the Extra-Pro Range and is high in fibre, low in starch and low in sugar.
Contact the Bluegrass Horse Feed helpline to speak with one of our nutritional advisors for more information on feeding good doers and those prone to Laminitis this spring. For an individually formulated diet, head to our website and fill out a diet request form, where our team members will create a diet tailored to your individual horse’s needs.
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