The National Equine Health Survey, in association with the Blue Cross, found that out of all health syndromes reported, 6.8% had laminitis. Laminitis caused 20.7% of reported lameness. It is therefore very prevalent, and even more so with the native breeds. One of the difficulties with laminitis is that there is no one, definitive indicator. Many owners confuse the symptoms with arthritic stiffness, and this could cause a delay in the horse receiving the correct treatment, which could prove fatal. Make sure you know the symptoms as they could save your horse…
The horses’ pulse can be felt at the back of the fetlock (there are lots of videos on YouTube showing you how). With some healthy horses, it can be difficult to detect a pulse at all, in others you will feel it gently, even when they are well. The key for a laminitic, is that the pulse will be ‘bounding’. It isn’t faster, but feels stronger due to the blood constriction in the feet pushing the blood back up the artery. It is a good idea to monitor your horse’s pulse so you know what it feels like normally and can therefore detect if it changes. Make sure you are not just detecting your own pulse in your thumb – the horse’s pulse is much slower than ours!
Heat in the Hooves
Not all laminitics have warmer feet, and warmer feet could indicate another type of hoof infection. In combination with other symptoms, warm feet, particularly the two front feet, could indicate laminitis.
Laminitis is painful. How does your horse feel today? Does he have his usual sparkle and keen temperament? Or do his eyes look dull with a sad, dis-interested expression on his face?
The typical laminitis stance is where the horse leans back to take the weight on his hind quarters, with his painful front feet stretched out ahead. This is easily recognisable but other symptoms may help you detect the condition before it reaches this stage (and if he has laminitis in all four feet, you won’t see the typical stance).
Is he walking out as normal, or a bit reluctant? Is he stiff, or ‘pottering’ on his front feet? Is he worse on hard ground than soft? Perhaps he looks like he is walking on hot coals – taking quick, short steps to get his feet off the ground as quickly as possible.
If your horse has any combination of symptoms from the above, take action immediately. Keep him stabled on a soft bed, feed soaked hay with no concentrates, and call the Vet. The sooner laminitis is diagnosed, the more successful the outcome is likely to be.
Remember, thinking forward is a key part of horsemanship and prevention is always more effective than cure. Why not take advantage of our HerbiLIX Original special offer this month with 15% off, our 8kg tub is just £11.25. The low sugar, low molasses formula contains less than 8% sugar. HerbiLIX Orginal is non-sticky and mess free whilst remaining extremely palatable, kind to the waistline and even safe for laminitics due to the low NSC content.