The spring grass is starting to grow rapidly and we’re experiencing sunny days and cold nights, during which the sugars in the grass increase significantly and pose a serious risk to horses that are susceptible to laminitis.
Laminitis is an extremely painful inflammatory condition of the feet in which there is weakening of the sensitive tissues (laminae) that bond the hoof wall to the pedal bone within the hoof. It is characterised by lameness, usually sudden in onset, in one or more feet. Frequently both front feet are affected, but it can also affect hind feet.
There are a number of reasons for horses and ponies being affected by laminitis, and it’s important to rule out Sepsis Associated Laminitis (SAL) and Supporting Limb Laminitis (SLL), but it is now believed that 90% of laminitis cases, and all pasture associated laminitis cases, are linked to the horse’s endocrine system (Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) (insulin dysregulation) and/or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID)). Obesity and too much carbohydrate (starch and sugar) in the diet (typically, spring grass or excessive concentrates), along with poor foot shape (poor foot balance, long toes), concussion and stress are all potential causes of this debilitating condition.
Image courtesy of Dr D Pollard
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