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Laminitis is never a minor thing. We should have etched in our minds that laminitis is a debilitating, crippling disease which causes extreme pain and distress to horses and, in all cases, should be treated as a clinical emergency.
While most obese horses will recover from an attack of laminitis, a large number will be crippled for life. In some extreme cases, if the laminitis is not treated effectively during the acute phase, periods of pain, discomfort and suffering will be prolonged and become chronic. Eventually such horses will need to be put down.
Since the mid-1980s, extensive research has been carried out by experts in laminitis such as Robert Eustace of the Laminitis Clinic in Wilshire, England, Chris Pollitt of the University of Queensland, Australia, Dr. Ric Redden of the Equine Podiatry Clinic in Versailles, Ky., and the late Burney Chapman of Lubbock, Texas, who pioneered laminitis research among farriers.
Their work gives a better understanding of the causes, the course and the likely prognosis of the disease, so that veterinarians and farriers can begin effective treatment as soon as acute symptoms appear. They will also be able to assess whether the treatment is working and if not, when to stop it and have the horse put down.
Pollitt’s earlier work concluded that foot pain in laminitis is caused by the prolonged opening of small valves located between the veins and arteries. These valves regulate the flow of warm oxygenated blood, which…