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: Is laminitis or colic a bigger concern to horse owners?

By Danica Pollard, PhD

New research conducted in the United Kingdom by the Animal Health Trust in collaboration with the Rossdales Equine Hospital reveals that 1 in 10 horses or ponies might develop at least one laminitic episode each year.

As a result, this makes laminitis just as common as colic among the equine population. And just as colic can happen during any season, the study indicates that there is no “safe” period during the year from laminitis.

The study was based on health and management observations with 1,070 horses and ponies over 29 months in Great Britain. The results encourage horse owners to stay current on preventative measures year-round, even if owners believe the “high-risk” period is over. Owners should also learn the subtle signs of laminitis, especially when it can be life-threatening to their horses. 

Common signs reported by owners within the study of the afflicted horses include difficulty in turning, a short or stilted gait and the occurrence of lameness at a walk. These symptoms were present in more than 70% of the laminitic episodes.

Less than 25% of the affected animals displayed the classically recognized symptoms such as the laminitic stance of weight bearing deeply in the hind legs and divergent hoof rings, a condition in which the rings are wider at the heel than at the toe. Many owners didn’t report a high digital pulse, a symptom that allows owners to identify laminitis much sooner than the physical manifestations of soreness. 

Only half of the 123 owner-reported cases of laminitis were confirmed by a veterinarian’s diagnosis. Despite veterinarians considering laminitis to be a medical emergency, owners didn’t seem to share the same urgency. As a result, many laminitic horses are not getting initial medical attention.

Owners should be encouraged to call their veterinarian if they begin to suspect their horse is showing subtle clinical signs associated with laminitis. By the time these subtle signs appear, damage to the hoof already has begun. 

The study confirms the importance of prevention and early detection. Owners are encouraged to be vigilant at all times of the year in order to detect laminitic symptoms at an early stage, as the sooner the signs are recognized, the sooner the horse can be helped. If not to prevent laminitis, the goal should be to at least reduce the damage caused by this terrible disease.

Danica Pollard is a PhD student at the Royal Veterinary College in the United Kingdom.

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 April 15, 2019 installment: How great is the risk of turning my two horses out on a lush green pasture this spring?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.