Flow Chart of acute laminitis in horses

The above flow chart illustrates how elevated adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels can trigger acute laminitis in horses with pituitary pars
intermedia dysfunction (PPID).

Why PPID and EMS Horses Get Acute Laminitis Flare-ups in the Fall

Higher ACTH levels can lead to hyperinsulinemia and laminitis despite high-quality care

Farrier Takeaways

  • Hormone activity is triggered by shorter days to prepare the horse for winter.
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) levels go up in all horses from late July-December.
  • Testing for ACTH, leptin and glucose levels can help determine which path is leading to laminitis. This may help form protocols specifically targeting the organs of the endocrine system responsible for the breakdown.
  • Studying the developmental phase of laminitis can help us understand the disease and how it affects horses more clearly.

Starting in July, all Adrenocorti-co-tropic Hormone (ACTH) levels rise in horses to prepare their bodies for winter. What is ACTH? It is produced by the pituitary gland. Hormone levels continue to rise into December.

Changes in hormone levels trigger the body to grow the winter coat. ACTH levels are measured in picograms per milliliter (pg/ml). A common upper level for normal horses is 35 pg/ml. Horses with uncontrolled or poorly managed Cushing’s disease, also known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), can reach 1, 000 pg/ml. Levels can be checked with a simple blood test.

Check levels in the fall for horses with a history of unexplained past bouts with acute laminitis and horses in their teens. These are the years that horses frequently struggle with Cushing’s disease and/or insulin resistance.

ACTH’s Role

ACTH controls the production of cortisol in the adrenal glands. This is where the danger is. Cortisol is a hormone that responds to stress fights infection, regulates blood sugar, maintains blood pressure and regulates metabolism. When there is…

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Derrick cooke

Derrick Cooke

Derrick Cooke, CJF, has been a farrier for over 37 years. He studied biology and chemistry in college and is an American Farrier’s Association certification tester who has lectured at several clinics around the world. He has worked extensively for the past 15 years to develop practical solutions for laminitis.

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