Spring is a time of year most of us look forward to, as it means extra daylight hours, better weather and more riding, plus increased turnout time for our horses. But it can be a different story if you own a horse who’s at risk of laminitis, with the potential for spring grass to trigger an episode..
What is laminitis?
Laminitis is a painful condition where sensitive tissues within your horse’s hoof become inflamed. These tissues, known as laminae, have the important job of attaching the pedal bone to his hoof wall and when laminitis occurs they weaken, causing the pedal bone to rotate. In severe cases, the bone has been known to penetrate through the sole.
The risk of laminitis is increased by…
- an excessive intake of grass or hard feed, or access to new grazing
- hormonal conditions
- concussion – for example, from jumping on hard ground
- administration of certain medications
- a severe infection
- excessive weight bearing, where one limb is taking more weight
The hormonal link
It’s believed that the majority of laminitis cases – around 90% – are caused by an underlying hormonal condition. If you horse has had laminitis in the past, you should talk to your vet about testing him for….
- PPID (pars pituitary intermediary dysfunction, previously known as Cushing’s disease)
- Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS)
Horses can have one or both of these conditions and it’s believed they both cause insulin resistance. If your horse has high levels of insulin in his blood, there’s an increased risk of laminitis being triggered by eating starch and sugar.
Read more about reducing the risk of laminitis and learn to spot the signs of an outbreak in April Horse&Rider, on sale 8 March.