Up and coming research on the causes and treatment of laminitis was shared earlier this year at the Havemeyer International Equine Endocrinology Summit.

The conference, exclusively for invited clinicians and researchers, featured 50 presentations including nine by members of the Waltham International Laminitis and Obesity Research Consortium.

Topics included identifying animals at higher risk of laminitis due to insulin resistance and other factors. With greater awareness of potential risk factors for laminitis, the condition’s prevalence should decrease. 

A study to be featured in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science in June chronicles the limitations of owners’ ability to accurately assess whether their horses are overweight. The study suggests that owners’ perceptions of their horses’ conditions vary over time and depend on the activities the horse regularly engages in.

The issue also will feature a study finding that cold-blooded breeds shorter than 149 centimeters tall, that are kept on high quality pastures and native ponies, may be more likely to develop laminitis.

Two papers about to print in the Equine Veterinary Journal also were presented at the conference, including the first study examining factors that might help predict which subjects out of a group of previously unaffected horses are more likely to develop the condition. Another assesses how factors in feeding can alter oral sugar test readings.

Regarding laminitis treatment, a study slated for publication later this year from Australian researchers says that owners often fail to accurately follow recommended feeding and management changes to better manage or prevent the condition.

Still, Clare Barefoot, research and development manager of Spillers, a British feed manufacturer, is hopeful.

“The findings also provide us with invaluable information to enable us to formulate our feeds appropriately,” she told HorseTalk.co.nz.

“Current understanding still supports the use of high fiber, low sugar and starch, low glycemic feeds.”