Preventing and Managing the Most Common Form of Laminitis

Strategies are improving to keep horses more comfortable and limit the progression of the deadly disease

Less than 2 decades ago, it was thought that all laminitis cases were the same regardless of the cause. Research since has proven that there are key differences in the mechanisms that lead to laminitis in different situations and that there are basically three major forms: laminitis that occurs in horses that are sick (sepsis-induced laminitis); laminitis that occurs in horses that have an underlying problem with obesity and/or endocrine disease (insulin-mediated or endocrinopathic laminitis) and laminitis that occurs in horses with a condition causing overload of weight on a single limb (supporting limb laminitis).

Farrier Takeaways

  • A horse with Cushing’s, metabolic syndrome or insulin dysregulation must be treated for those conditions first before their feet can be fixed.
  • New research is aiding in the early identification of horses at risk of developing laminitis due to insulin dysregulation through improved tests of endocrine function and genetic markers.

“Although we used to think it was kind of all the same, we realize in particular that these forms are actually quite different,” says Andrew Van Eps, associate professor of musculoskeletal research at the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center.

In addition to three distinct causes, the impact laminitis has on the hoof structures is dependent on the primary source. For example, acute sepsis-associated laminitis leads to a significant amount of destruction to the basement membrane. Horses with insulin-mediated cases experience more of a lengthening and stretching of the cells themselves.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean more cells,” Van Eps says while delivering the…

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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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