What Causes Supporting Limb Laminitis?

Improving circulation in loaded foot is the key to avoiding disease

Pictured Above: Supporting limb laminitis is the least understood of the three variations of the devastating hoof disease. After surgery to repair three broken bones in his right hind leg, Barbaro succumbed to supporting limb laminitis in 2007. Photos: Penn Vet New Bolton Center

The following article is based on Dr. Andrew van Eps' presentation at the 2018 International Hoof-Care Summit. To watch the presentation, click here.

Barbaro was expected to break the Triple Crown drought in 2006 by becoming the first colt to claim the illustrious title in nearly 3 decades. He handily won the Kentucky Derby and was the favorite to win the Preakness Stakes.

Stumbling out of the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course on May 20, he fractured three bones in and around the fetlock of his right hind leg. The very next day, he arrived at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center where equine surgeon Dean W. Richardson reconstructed the limb. Equine veterinarian Andrew van Eps remembers the day vividly. He was working on another horse that had been brought in with a critical condition when Barbaro arrived.

“Barbaro had a terrible hind limb fracture,” he says. “The expertise, the equipment and the facilities for recovery that these horses have make it quite possible to fix complex fractures.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Blood flow is a more significant contributing factor to supporting-limb laminitis than mechanical overload.
  • Load cycling (offloading and loading the feet) through walking, or shifting weight when standing still, helps to maintain blood…
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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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