Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Do I need to be concerned with laminitis during the fall months?

By Ice Horse staffers

While laminitis can happen at any time, most cases happen in the spring and fall.  Some studies have even found that laminitis happens more often in the fall.

Here are five things to remember about laminitis, your horse and the changing seasons.

1. As the days get shorter, your horse’s body tells it to do a few things. 

Grow a winter coat, start packing on some pounds and increase the levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone, also known as ACTH. The level of this hormone can be easily measured with blood tests, which can give your vet a picture of your horse’s metabolic health.

A normal, metabolically healthy horse will have increased levels of ACTH in the fall. The horse with compromised metabolism will have dramatically increased levels of ACTH in the fall. This is dangerous, as the ACTH tells your horse to produce more insulin, which compromises the integrity of the hoof’s laminae and can make a bout of laminitis much more likely.

2. Temperature differences can lead to increased stress on pasture grass. 

When grasses are stressed, they start to hoard “sugars” in an effort to survive.  In the fall, cool nights and warm days signal the grass to start hoarding “sugars.”

A good rule of thumb is to avoid grazing when overnight temperatures are below 40 degrees F. Wait until afternoon. However, you also may have a fall heat wave, which can also stress the grass in the afternoon. Be prepared to adjust accordingly.

3. Be aware of ground hardness.

Periods of drought or an early freeze can leave the earth hard and unforgiving. As your horse moves around on the hard ground, he might be more likely to get a stone bruise. Hard ground is also more concussive, which can create additional problems. Avoid riding on hard surfaces and make sure your horse has somewhere comfortable to stand. Providing a mat or bedding in an outdoor shelter are good ideas.

4. Know that damage from laminitis can occur in just a few hours.

The moment that you even begin to think something is wrong, call the vet and get your horse’s feet and legs into some ice. If you just think it’s walking a little slower, doesn’t want to turn so easily or its digital pulse is a bit stronger, don’t hesitate to take precautions. 

5. Keep exercising your horse!

A horse involved in a regular exercise program is less likely to develop laminitis. Your veterinarian and trainer can help you design an exercise program for your horse’s medical and physical needs. But it’s up to you to not skip days because the weather seems too cold or you have too much homework. Riding in all sorts of weather and temperatures is often fun and a great way to really bond with your horse

 Keep a watchful eye and monitor those hooves all the time!

This information was provided by MacKinnon, the manufacturers of Ice Horse products in Sonoma, Calif.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.

Click here to read Part 1 of the Oct. 1, 2018 installment: Can feeding biotin help eliminate rainrot concerns with one of my horses?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.