Barbaro’s Death Demonstrates The Need For More Laminitis Research

After an 8-month struggle to put Barbaro’s fractured leg back together, the Kentucky Derby winner was euthanized on Jan. 29 due to laminitis complications on the opposite rear leg. Yet his long struggle for survival captured the hearts of the American public and dramatically increased their understanding of the problems that farriers have faced for centuries with laminitis.

Even with the extensive work needed for fracture repair, Dr. Dean Richardson and his veterinary team at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center recognized early on that laminitis in the opposite foot could lead to serious consequences. 

In the September/October, 2006 issue of American Farriers Journal, Managing Editor Pat Tearney pointed out how the Barbaro injury was a learning experienced for the American public as well as members of the mainstream media. He stressed that the end result could hopefully lead to more funding for laminitis research and the treatment of equine injuries.

 The answer to solving this centuries-old problem lies in the fact that more dollars need to be devoted to all aspects of laminitis research. Even with previous research investments, many more dollars are needed to find a cure for the disease.

Over the years, the Animal Health Foundation has raised nearly $800,000 for laminitis research. The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has spent $1.2 million since 1988 on 16 studies that looked at laminitis or related concerns. Other groups have invested in laminitis research as well.

While much has been learned about laminitis in recent years, Ohio State University…

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