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Handsome Horse France 2020. Part of Handsome Horse.



Laminitis is a condition that not many horse owners have not worried about at one time or another.

There are many causes of Laminitis and effectively it would be wrong to point it directly at spring grass, although this is considered one of the most common causes.

Vets from countries all over the world have extensively studied thousands of horses and ponies to create comprehensive information that can be found on the Internet and in books.

Here we have taken a selection of the information available to bring you an insight of the disease and how to treat it.


Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae.

The hoof wall is made up of an interlinked outer insensitive layer ( the horn) supported by an underlying inner sensitive layer (the laminae). In lamininitis, the blood flow to the laminae is affected, resulting in inflammation and swelling in the tissues within the hoof and severe pain. As the laminae is starved of oxygen and nutrient rich blood, the cells become damaged. Unless the cause is removed and treatment is started straight away the sensitive laminae can die.

The Laminae is responsible for supporting the pedal bone in the hoof and thus the weight of the horse. In severe cases of laminitis, the pedal bone can sink and rotate due to the inability of the damaged laminae to support and from the pull of the deep digital tendon. If the pedal bone sinks too far it can be seen to protrude from the sole of the foot. In many cases this is irreversible, however some cases can be treated, although it will take a lot of time and money


There are many causes of laminitis and many people who do not agree with the findings of other people.

At the end of the day, is it not better to look into all the probable's when trying to find out the reasons why and not just put it down to one or two reasons??


   repeated physical trauma to the feet     during exercise. E.g. endurance, driving,     jumping on hard ground


* STRESS - Leading to chemical     imbalance




  Carb overload



* Cushings

* Fillies & mares coming into season

* Cold Weather

* Colic

* Infections

* Toxeamia

* Retained Placenta

* Drug Inducement


If you suspect laminitis call your vet  or farrier and take action until their arrival.

Restrict Grazing. If you do not have access to a stable then you can make a stable sized pen using electric fencing or gates. If possible make up a deep non edible bed to help support the feet.

Treatment from your vet or farrier is paramount. Make sure that your farrier is fully qualified! A farrier spends many years studying the structures of the horses feet and anatomy. The old adage “No foot - No Horse” is a lot more than an old wives tale!

Your vet can prescribe you  any drugs that you may need to help reduce the inflammation.


DON NOT STARVE YOUR HORSE!  It is recommended that a horse will need forage of hay grass of between 1.2% and 1.5% (2% for very large breeds) of the bodyweight daily. For example a 500kg horse will need  between 5.9kg - 10kg. Avoid feeding less than 1% of bodyweight.

Feed low quality, low sugar forage. Balance the diet with a low dose rate vitamin and mineral supplement and a good quality protein, from full fat soya or similar.

After treating the initial bout of laminitis , it can be managed by limiting turnout to 1-3 hours a day, preferably late at night , after 10pm or early in the morning before 10am. Ensure you avoid frosts, as this increases the fructins in the grass.

Exercise, this is a subject that can be contradictory  - after the initial treatment , some consider light exercise beneficial as it increases the blood flow to the hooves. In the case of a severe bout of laminitis  this may not always be possible and it could be recommended minimal movement. Your vet will advise you on the best way of treatment.

Cold hosing or using buckets of iced water can be considered an aid to lower the temperature of the feet and offer short term relief until the drugs take effect.


Alfalfa hay or chaff is an excellent addition to most horses diets, even those that are insulin resistant. It is lower in starch and sugar than most grass hays. With a higher protein content however it does make it more calorific.

You can feed a laminitic horse feeds that are specifically designed for metabolic issues, a ratio balancer. or vitamin &mineral supplements . These can be used with a combined sugar/starch content of no more than 10-12%

Magnesium and chronium both assist insulin and glucose dynamics, with Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Vit E, iodinised salt, are also up there on the essentials list, together with essential amino acids such as Lysine, Methionine and Thereonine.

Feeds such as micronised linseed is also an excellent choice for feeding the laminitic horse. It contains low starch, low sugar, high  protein, it is high in Omega oils. It is a magical feed that provides anti-inflammatory properties and it is highly palatable for most horses. Many of the supplement and balancers use linseed as  an ingredient.

There are many supplements on the market, these are not drugs and thus do not come under the regulations of medicines act. They are considered to be feed additives and are loosely regulated under the feeding stuffs regulations and as such  are not allowed to claim that they prevent, cure or treat laminitis.  Although the majority of supplements are produced by reputable companies with long histories of horse healthcare and specific ingredients that can be of great value.

We have found a couple of great links to guides on the Laminitic Horse, offering feeding guidelines, body scoring and top tips.

Take a look for yourselves at



To see suitable laminitic feeds and supplements available from us  CLICK HERE

Disclaimer - The details contained within this article are for information suggestion purposes only and do not take the place of professional advice  from Vets or Farriers. The material has been sourced from various articles from vets, farriers, feed manufacturers and other advisory bodies. No responsibility will be taken for the accuracy of this information. No liability will be accepted for any damage arising from use, reference or reliance from any of the information given. We will always stand by our opinion that you seek the advice of professionals.