When observing laminar stretching at the toe, Chapel Hill, N.C., equine veterinarian Dick Mansmann advised attendees at March’s North Carolina State Equine Health Symposium of the need for radiographs to determine the extent of the laminitis — regardless of how sound the horse is.
The stretching is evidence of subclinical laminitis, which is the early stage of laminitis when structural changes have occurred within the hoof and without the horse being obviously lame or short in the stride.
Shoeing plays a critical role in relieving navicular pain, Redding, Calif., equine veterinarian Wally Lieberman tells The Horse. In fact, he cautions that leaving some horses barefoot “could be the kiss of death” and worsens the pathology. Finding the best shoeing approach, however, is not easy.
“Some horses need wedge pads to lift the heels to decrease tension in the deep digital flexor tendon,” he says, “whereas in other cases, wedge pads can be counterproductive by tightening tension on an adhesion when what the horse needs is to lower the heels.”
Danish researcher Nanna Luthersson and her colleagues, writing in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, report that one-third of Danish horses diagnosed with laminitis were euthanized within 1 year. Only 7.5% of the controls were euthanized, but none for laminitis-associated reasons. A recent change in grass, high-quality pastures and breed were significant risk factors.