What is Founder?
© 2018 ~ by Terry Mercer
The simple answer is extremely severe laminitis, which can quickly go to a point the hoof wall actually separates, and the coffin bone could detach and rotate.
Though, for most horse people, including some farriers and veterinarians, use the words ‘laminitis’ and ‘founder’ interchangeably and synonymously, they really aren’t. The difference is like ‘all compound fractures involve a broken bone, but not all broken bones are compound fractures.’ There are many different symptoms diagnosed as ‘laminitis’ that are not ‘founder,’ but all instances of ‘founder’ have ‘laminitis’ issues.
Laminitis is basically ‘inflammation of the laminae.’ There are approximately 600 pairs of interleaved tissues, referred to as the ‘laminae,’ which connects the coffin bone to the hoof wall and helps cushion it in normal use. Laminitis can be virtually anything involving the hoof wall (inside or out), starting at the cornet band and down, with signs of inflammation of the laminar bond. Whereas founder more specifically requires the ‘separation’ of the coffin bone from the hoof wall, which can then rotate causing drastic pain and absolute lameness. As Dr. David Davenport, DVM, MS, MS, CNS pointed out, “Founder is at the far end of the spectrum known as ‘laminitis.’”
The reality of what causes founder remains the same, as do the ways to avoid, prevent, and in most cases treat it.
If there isn’t a specific physical injury damaging that area, then laminitis is often caused, or perpetuated, by a decrease in blood flow to the laminae (the hoof wall and connective tissues within the foot). If there is a lack of blood for too long, the health of the hoof will be in jeopardy; the laminae can begin to die and separate if the blood flow is inhibited for too long. With a detached laminae, the coffin bone might then rotate, essentially crippling the horse, the cause would be known as Founder.
Acute laminitis is considered potentially life threatening, and thus a medical emergency. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Once the hoof wall begins to separate, rotation of the coffin bone becomes likely, depending on how (method and speed) it’s treated. This causes discomfort, which turns to extreme pain, and the slightest weight on that hoof is avoided. Horses can then become unable to walk, or walk as if they are on egg shells (in obvious pain). That’s why catching it quickly is so important, and getting the proper treatment is vital to any chance of treating the problem. In severe cases, the coffin bone can even push clear through the sole of the hoof, which usually results in no feasible treatment, and ultimately the death of the horse by euthanasia; because treatment is either way too costly or otherwise impossible at that point.
The reality is by the time most horse owners notice there is a problem (especially with the acute cases) the damage is already in process. Getting it stopped, and reversed (when possible) becomes the challenge. We’ll get to that later, but AVOIDING IT is often the best medicine! That is usually pretty easy, once you understand the causes… and watch your horses weight, health, and general motion.
What Causes Founder?
There are generally three different ‘types’ of founder:
- Grass Founder, aka ‘Pasture-Associated’ or ‘endocrinopathic laminitis’
- Rock Founder
- Mechanical Founder
Each of them can usually be avoided… and can be either ACUTE (here, now, serious, urgent) or CHRONIC (daily, could be serious, requires management)
Grass Founder is most often, but not always, related to EMS (equine metabolic syndrome). This disorder is often characterized by insulin resistance. Horses with this type of founder usually have a high concentration of insulin in their blood stream (hyperinsulinemia… which is similar to type-2 diabetes in people). Also important, researchers have shown that injecting horses (and ponies) with high doses of insulin CAN INDUCE LAMINITIS in horses that aren’t insulin resistant. Blood tests CAN determine if a horse is insulin resistant, and thereby help determine how much potentially there is to issues, boosting awareness and avoiding future issues more easily.
Acute cases of Founder tend to happen more often with horses that were ‘kept in’ for the winter, and turned out in the spring without any real or effective restrictions on what they eat in the pasture.
It’s important to understand that non-structural STARCHES are the problem, because they are a ‘rapid digesting’ starch that quickly converts to sugars, which can spike the blood sugar levels, especially in animals with insulin regulation issues. ‘Slow digesting’ starches (structural starches, aka FIBER) are generally not a problem, as they take longer to break down within a gut, and are considered low-glycemic, which provides the body energy without spiking the blood sugar levels. Unrestricted access to excessive amounts of non-structural starches are what is the most common cause of ‘Grass Foundering.’
Common grasses found in most pastures, store energy to help with their own growth cycle, survival and seed production. Energy is a form of starch. The ‘structural’ starch generally isn’t the problem, it’s the ‘juice’ and ‘meat’ inside the grass that is ‘non-structural’ and can be the problem when a horse eats too much. However, founder can also, happen when horses are fed too much non-structural starches from grain or treats.
Tips for avoiding…
Grass Founder: LIMIT Legumes, alfalfa and clover, because they store energy as non-structural starch. Allow horses to fill up on low starch, even soaked, hay before turning them out on grass, as they will generally eat less of that grass if they are already full. Consider a grazing muzzle, to limit what they can get in the field.
Limit the time they are turned out, and the time of the day.
Cool-season grasses and hays, such as alfalfa, bluegrass, fescue, and rye, tend to be higher in fructans/sugars than warm season grasses such as Bermuda or switchgrass. However, all tend to fluctuate during the year, and depending on the time of the cutting (or eating).
Make sure there aren’t insulin resistant or PPID issues…
Road Founder: caused by repeated hard concussion on asphalt, cement, rocks, or other extremely hard ground… or by stepping on, or kicking, something that injures the hoof wall. This type of Foundering is more common on horses without shoes, and those being pushed too hard on surfaces they are not used to.
Mechanical Founder: Usually happens because of either wrong trimming of the hooves, or NO TRIMMING, which causes a structural imbalance. It could also happen by prolonged standing on one foot (usually to offset injury in other foot), laminitis could develop in the ‘good’ foot.
Unless your veterinarian advises otherwise… DO NOT do any trimming on horses with detached walls, or thin soles, as those issues often need all the support they can get, and special care must be given. Length, angle, thickness are all important. Of course, really long toes will likely need to be cut off, but it’s usually done after x-rays and at the direction of the veterinarian. .
Unless you KNOW the cause, you should make sure the issue (whether laminitis or founder) was NOT caused by poor trimming. While it’s rare, it’s not impossible… or uncommon; especially if the lameness issues or concern happened within a day or two of a trimming. If there is any doubt or question, have your veterinarian or professional THIRD PARTY double check… (not the person that did the trimming, or necessarily their direct competitor). It is important to rule the farrier out as the cause of a Mechanical Foundering.
Horses with any type of founder issues will likely require some corrective farrier work, specialized trimming. The coffin bone should be nearly parallel with the ground, with the toes backed up (rolled), so the hoof will have sufficient break over when walking…. special pads or shoes might also be required.
See our next issue to learn more about Founder, ways to prevent and treat it.
This is Part 2 of ‘What is Founder?’ If you missed part 1 please check it out before proceeding…
Treatment should be done by, and at the recommendation of, your Veterinarian who has actually seen the horse, and the current situation! Foundering is an emergency that requires immediate care, and professional help, to minimize permanent damage. If you suspect an issue IMMEDIATELY CALL YOUR EQUINE VETERINARIAN! BEFORE it becomes serious, or potentially untreatable.
Other causes of Laminitis or Founder could be:
- Black Walnuts (in shavings, bedding, also from pollen & droppings from BW trees),
- Certain drugs (including corticosteroids),
- Colic – severe cases,
- Cushing’s disease (PPID – malfunction of the pituitary gland),
- Foot disease(s) not treated quickly enough
- Hormonal imbalance ,
- Imbalance (excess weight bearing ON ONE LIMB)
- Ingestion of a lot of cold water too fast,
- Potomac horse fever,
- Retained placenta (after foaling)…
- SIRS in the hoof or laminae region
- Toxemia (blood poisoning),
- Ulcer/gas/leaky gut syndrome
Causes of SIRS (systemic inflammatory response syndrome):
- Hemorrhagic shock (oxygen deprivation)
- Hypothermia (or hyperthermia);
- Immune-mediated diseases;
- Ischemia (restricted blood supply to tissues, causing a shortage of oxygen and glucose);
- Metabolic Endotoxemia
- Profound hypoxia
- Trauma (usually direct to the region).
Diagnostic indicators of SOME health issue or valid concern in adult horses:
- Elevated heart rate above 60 beats per minute (normal is around 30-40);
- Hyperventilation or tachypnea (abnormally rapid breathing);
- Increased white blood cell count.
- Temperature abnormal (rectally) above 105°F or below 98°F (normal is 98.5 to 101.5);
Signs of potential problems involving Laminitis or Foundering):
- Abnormal pulse in the feet,
- Bruised soles,
- Dished hooves,
- Dropped soles (flat feet),
- Heat in the feet (not necessarily just the coronary band),
- Lameness (limited to hoof region),
- Reluctant gait (hopping or shudder steps),
- Rings in hoof wall (wider toe to heel),
- Sawhorse stance (when still),
- Shifting lameness (when standing).
- Walking on ‘egg shells’
Check the soles of the feet, make sure they are clean and nothing is sticking in (or out) that shouldn’t be there. Make sure there aren’t any abscesses, sores, abnormal, or unusual things with the sole and the frog.
If there is no damage to their soles or hoof, and the problem is caught quickly, unless your veterinarian says otherwise, you should attempt to get your horse to walk as soon as possible, OR MASSAGE THE FROGS, to help increase circulation. That can help relieve some of the pain, especially when walked on very soft ground or sand. Horses in pain probably won’t want to walk, encourage them… use Bute if necessary, unless your veterinarian tells you otherwise, or their coffin bone is detached, they will usually benefit by the frog pumping blood through their legs (however your veterinarian can help that happen). If they absolutely won’t walk, consider the ICE BATH… around 40 degrees (not below 35 degrees). Remember, unless they are standing in an ice bath, above the coronary band… and/or getting treatment that otherwise helps, they will not have a greater blood flow in the lower legs and hooves just laying or standing in one place (and blood flow is important).
Obviously, if there is any concern with the sole of the hoof, or anything sticking out, that shouldn’t be, do NOT walk them unless your veterinarian tells you to. Instead, try to get them off their feet, lay them down, so they are less likely to further the damage, and wait for your veterinarian.
Again, the moment a horse is suspected of having laminitis (or founder) your Veterinary should be called. Never trust a stranger over the phone, on the internet (in any article or chat, even this one), because ‘Dr. Google’ has never seen that specific horse with the problem you see, and neither has the person on the phone. It is important they know your animal, feed, pasture, property, training routine, and goals. There should be someone ON SITE… that can SEE the horse, take x-rays, and witness the environment, so they can better serve you (and your horse). Following any stranger that doesn’t know those specifics could be the difference between an effective treatment vs chronic founder issues, and potentially having to deal with a crippled horse for years (or worse yet, putting them down).
There really are some effective treatments available. However, they usually dependent upon THE STAGE at which the problem happens to be. The first step to any treatment is a proper diagnosis, with the second being to remove, or limit and monitor, any relevant factors that might have caused the problem unless your veterinarian says otherwise. as soon as you can, if it is known:
Some general things you can usually do:
Eliminate all EXTRA feed. Do not allow them access to any other animals feed. No grain, molasses, beet pulp, flax, and NO ALFALFA on laminitic horses, until and unless your veterinarian tells you otherwise.
Next, consider soaking hay in water prior to feeding, as this can really help, because it will reduce the sugars (non-structural starches) by as much as 40% with just an hour of soaking. Make sure you rinse it good, pat it dry, and then TOSS OUT all that water (it’s now filled with starches, DO NOT REUSE THE WATER, or allow any animals to drink it). Caution is also given, in that you should never allow soaked hay to sit around (uneaten) for more than a few hours. You don’t want any issue with mold growth, and in the winter, you don’t want it to freeze. Make sure there is plenty of water (to drink), but NOT really cold drinking water. You’ll want to avoid any shock to their gut.
Dr. LeAnn Blackford, DVM, DACVS pointed out a couple important studies that demonstrated that Ice Water or Ice Boots have helped PREVENT ACUTE FOUNDER in horses that were prone to foundering, when they had:
- high fever,
- colic surgery,
- non-structural starch overload
NOTE: the horses have NOT YET foundered, but were prone to it… and deemed likely to founder had they not received the quick preventive treatment. Some speculation is that temporary restriction of blood flow BEFORE (foundering), but after the dangerous situation, is similar to pumping the stomach if something bad was eaten.
See our next issue to learn more about Founder, ways to prevent and treat it.
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This is Part 3 of ‘What is Founder?’ If you missed part 1 or 2, please check them out before proceeding…
If it (the ice baths) are done quickly enough, it has shown to help prevent the problem or limit the damage. Chris Pollitt, BVSc, PhD, head of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, shared some ideas on the function and uses of cryotherapy at the 4th “Promoting Excellence Symposium” of the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners (FAEP) in 2008. Pollitt said two factors emerged in clinical trials as “crucial to the success” of early intervention and duration of treatment.
- The earlier an at-risk horse can start cooling, and
- The longer they can remain cooled
These factors are paramount to the effectiveness of the treatment. Pollitt said an at-risk horse should undergo cryotherapy as soon as possible–definitely before clinical signs of laminitis manifest. “There’s no real limit on the application of cryotherapy,” Pollitt said, citing one study in which the horses remained in constant cryotherapy without damage for seven days. “I have no problem with leaving it on for as long as you think the horse is at risk from disease in other areas of its body.”
Once a horse HAS foundered, soaking the feet in COLD water is strongly DEBATED… especially IF detachment has already OCCURRED! Some believe icing foundered hooves, give the illusion of pain relief, because it ultimately restricts blood flow which is key to hoof health. It’s the blood that carries the necessary nutrients to the cells, but those nutrients must be in either the diet or supplemented, because they are key to health and healing. Use drugs for the pain and/or to increase the blood flow to the legs, as prescribed. Use corrective trimming to improve the angles as necessary; those things can help minimize the pain naturally. Increasing the supply of building block nutrients is generally a far more effective treatment for those that have actually foundered.
Therefore, in PRE-FOUNDERED horses that are at-risk, if you’re doing any soaking, be sure to use COLD water for as long as possible (around 40 degrees… for as long as 7 days). IF the horse has ALREADY foundered, unless your veterinarian tells you otherwise, you probably want to avoid icing. The body needs nutrients, and a healthy blood flow to promote any viable solution. It really depends on the severity of the issue and the treatment protocol, and the REASON the horse foundered. If it was NOT a ‘feeding’ related (grass founder), there has been some promise (and positive results) using ice baths/soaking with a combination of the vascular dilator Isoxsuprine, as a carrier for the key nutrients Gluquestrian supplies which targets the synovial fluids, joint and connective tissues. Key nutrients are necessary for the health of the entire body, but especially important for the joints and inner hoof laminae when there is a problem.
The different options for treatment are important, and varied, depending on the ‘reason’ the founder happened, and the ‘stage’ of the situation… and whether it’s acute or chronic.
- “Prevent” implies it ‘hasn’t happened’ (yet),
- “Prone to” is ‘doesn’t have, but might (likely) happen’ if the treatment doesn’t occur.
There are quite a few references saying vascular constriction AFTER founder HAS OCCURRED inhibits healing. The most important and established principles of treatment include aggressive nutritional support, with the correct building block nutrients, pain management (no herbs), cryotherapy (especially preventive), anti-inflammatory therapy (as necessary), and biomechanical support (such as a raised heel, rolled toe, through your veterinarian approved farrier).
While a few products on the market have been proven to help, there are many more that claim to help, prevent, cure, treat, solve… yet they really don’t. It is important to consult specialists that regularly deal with treating founder and navicular type issues before blindly trusting any OTC (over the counter) treatments or any supplements, especially if they don’t have a results based guarantee that lasts for the entire treatment period (at least 12 to 16 weeks). Avoid any and all OTC products that only have a 1 container or 30 day guarantee.
Avoid ALL PRODUCTS WITH HERBS… especially during the treatment period, unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian. Generally, they only mask the symptoms (pain)
Avoid any products that have glucosamine HCl in it, as you’ll just be wasting your money and not really helping your horse. (See the GAIT Study)
Consider using styrofoam pads, or cushioned boots; as they could help cushion the affected feet. Remember, BALANCE… deal with BOTH FEET, bilaterally, to maintain the balance and support.
Be aware of pain killers and symptom blockers, as they give a false sense of security, and can absolutely allow the problem to get worse while blocking the symptoms.
Keep overweight horses, ponies, and chronic problem horses in stalls or dry paddocks during the spring, with very limited pasture access… until a pasture’s growth rate has slowed. Introduce animals to the pasture slowly.
Obviously, if there are any abscesses or opened wounds, make sure they are treated… opened, drained, and soaked in what your veterinarian suggests (with appropriate antiseptics applied and protective padding added). Remember, ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN if there is a concern or doubt.
See our next issue to learn more about Founder, ways to prevent and treat it.
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This is Part 4 of ‘What is Founder?’ If you missed the previous parts, please check them out before proceeding…
Whenever there is a concern of laminitis or founder, you should consult your veterinarian, as they can SEE THE HORSE… the hooves, and the environment. And they can take xrays to determine if there is any detachment or rotation, and probably determine why the horse foundered to begin with… which could help in the treatment of that horse, and save other horses on the property.
Chronic founder requires daily supervision, feed limits and controls, daily exercise regime, and often dry paddock and stall with deep soft bedding when this is an issue or concern. Prevention and avoidance of flare ups is key.
Owners/daily caregivers should be very aware of what their horses healthy weight and body condition is, as well as any special instructions by the veterinarian. Daily exercise is almost always necessary in horses with laminitis, and chronic founder in the past.
In 2012, researchers at Texas A&M found that an anti-inflammatory protein, apolipoprotein A-IV (APOA-IV), a protein produced by the small intestine, was over 100% higher in cases of chronic laminitis, which suggests a bigger link to the digestive tract. They found 16 proteins that have significant differences in their levels in horses with, and without, chronic laminitis. The research could be key to determining the potential for a horse to contract founder issues because of some genetics. Obviously, we already know that some genetics play a role, because certain types of ponies, miniature horses, donkeys, Morgan’s, and certain drafts are often the most common breeds to be diagnosed with founder; though most all breeds CAN founder, those breeds are statistically significantly higher than all others.
It’s also important to understand that horses that foundered in the past, often have signs that are visible to most veterinarians, farriers, trainers, and experienced horse people. For many, if they grass foundered, you might see a thick ‘cresty’ neck and/or unusual pads of fat over the tailhead. However, those signs aren’t likely with road or mechanical founder. Another sign could be dishy hooves, and/or distinct (much wider than usual) growth rings on hoof walls, wavy lines that widen toward the heel.
Horses that suffer from chonic founder are not ‘easy keepers.’ They will require extra awareness, patience, and effort. Some things you can do to help:
MINIMIZE all sugars and non-structural starches when chronic laminitis or founder is an issue! This includes grains, molasses, sweet feeds, any treats!
Unless your veterinarian advises otherwise… consider having the SHOES REMOVED during the treatment process. In general, you want concave soles and balance. Getting the frog in contact with the soft ground can help get the blood flowing better… and it’s that blood flow that is vital to the health of the hooves and lower legs. Rolling the toe could help. If you live somewhere there really isn’t much ‘soft’ soil or sand, and shoes are necessary, consider reversed shoes, egg bar, or heart bar shoes WITH PADS when possible. Those have shown both promise and success in many cases. Overgrown and unbalanced hooves can be another cause of founder. Having a “Long toe + low heel” configuration can create an unnatural pull on the coffin bone, and could contribute to the path of laminitis episodes.
The ‘frog’ is a ‘pump’ to help get the blood flowing throughout the lower legs of healthy horses. So, any prolonged problem, that keeps the frog from helping pump the blood, can be tough on both the injured leg, AND the leg attempting to compensate for the injured leg. Too much standing in the same place can also compress the blood vessels, inhibiting circulation… which can perpetuate problems, and even create Mechanical Founder.
It is important to note that an estimated that 60 to 75% of the horses that experience a detachment (of the coffin bone) with more than a 9% rotation WILL HAVE ‘chronic founder’ for the REST OF THEIR LIFE! This means the horse will be permanently lame for the remainder of their life, requiring constant vigilant care; or, may even need to be euthanized, which might be the only humane option for some horses suffering with this type of problem.
Unless your veterinarian says otherwise, consider the following:
Isoxsuprine, a vasodilator, helps increase the blood flow to the lower extremities (ie. Legs and hooves). The science has existed since 1983 with some impressive results. It can act as a carrier for quality nutrients, such as those listed below. Caution is given if you are competing in an organization that banned the drug Isoxsuprine, though why attempt to compete on a horse with serious laminitis or founder issues?
Gluquestrian powder, a premium joint supplement, supplying the body the base nutrients the joint tissues need, in forms they can use – 2 scoops (2 tsps.) three times a day… or 4 scoops twice a day, to maximize joint support. This will help improve the quality and viscosity of synovial fluids, and improve strength and flexibility of ligament and tendons.
LifeData Labs Farrier’s Formula, a good hoof supplement, with the nutrition the HOOF WALL requires to be healthy.
Remember, if there IS A PROBLEM you are trying to help solve, just a ‘maintenance’ dose is usually going to waste of your time (and money). As with all nutrition, be particularly vigilant to split the dosage into at least twice a day, to help get the body the necessary nutrients it needs for optimum health and healing. Foundered horses likely need much more attention, and higher doses, for at least 6 to 18 weeks (sometimes longer, if there is rotation or serious hoof issues). Moving an affected horse to deep soft bedding and a sandy dry paddock ground surface will also usually help a great deal.
See our next issue to learn more about Founder, particularly Chronic Founder, and ways to help prevent and treat it.
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This is Part 5 of ‘What is Founder?’ If you missed any of the previous parts please check it out before proceeding…
You have a HARD KEEPER, if your horse has any one of the following:
- chronic lethargy,
- chronic susceptibility to infections…
- excessive sweating (without reason),
- has an increased thirst (without reason),
- has foundered in the past,
- increased urination (again, without reason),
- slow to shed out (their winter coat),
If any of those are true, you will need to be extra cautious, and watch for signs of problems. CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN if there are any concerns! Things you can do to help reduce or prevent the problem:
- Turn them out on pasture for just an hour or two, earlier in the morning, when sugar levels are lower. As Doctor LeAnn Blackford, DVM, DACVS, pointed out, AVOID allowing them to be in the pasture in the afternoon, because the sugar levels are higher during the daylight hours.
- Avoid allowing unrestricted access.
- Look for feeds that deliver calories from FAT and not carbs!
- BREAK UP THE RATIONS into multiple SMALL MEALS throughout the day! This can absolutely help avoid drastic fluctuations in glucose, insulin, and hormone spikes.
- WATCH OUT FOR TREATS! Many are filled with sugars ( bad starches or carbs)…
- If you don’t have a dry paddock, grazing muzzles can help limit intake, especially during peak grass growth periods/seasons.
- Keep horses off new fast-growing pastures (fructan is higher),
- Drastically limit their time on pastures.
- Avoid allowing grazing in pastures recently exposed to bright sunny days followed by low temperatures, as a growth spurt means high fructan. (elevated problem potential to high risk horses).
- You can send grass samples to a laboratory for analysis to be certain of sugar content, especially if there is an issue or concern. You can test throughout the year, in different seasons and climate conditions, so you can better identify (or eliminate) patterns (problems or pastures) too high in fructan levels; and, feed accordingly.
- For some, a dry lot, or round pen, might be the only safe turnout.
Inflammatory laminitis is less common, but can still turn into founder. It is usually easily avoided with a good farrier, and reasonable vet care when there is a problem. As are bacterial infections, which can usually be stopped (or avoided) before they become an issue. You can
- Prevent ‘starch overloads’ (over eating). Fermentation, in the hindgut, can lead to laminitis issues. Consuming too many non-structural starches, is an issue.
- Avoid large grain meals (sweet feed mixtures, and pellets high in carbs).
- Feed regular hay first (low fructan) to fill their stomach with fiber, as that will slow other feeds eaten down, and the added fiber will help things digest more thoroughly.
- Feed problem horses with issues separately, away from others, so they can’t over eat, and won’t feel the need to over stuff themselves competing for food stuff, thinking they might not otherwise get any (or trying to keep another from getting as much).
- Avoid making big dietary changes often, as it can disrupt the intestinal flora, which is a vital part of a healthy digestion, immunity, and general health. Consult veterinarian!
- Avoid black walnut shavings, PERIOD! Especially in bedding! Simply STANDING ON wood shavings containing just 20% black walnut can INDUCE ACUTE LAMINITIS within just a few hours. Even the pollen and leaves from these type of trees have proven to be a problem, they don’t even have to eat it. Quality horse bedding is free of this component; however, there are bulk sellers of wood shavings for hog fuel, and bedding for other animals, that still often contain black walnut.
- Do not allow them to eat Red Maple Leaves… as these have also been linked to many cases of founder.
Your veterinarian should double check the diet your horse is getting, making any necessary changes… to both the feed AND any supplementation. However, things like Gluquestrian (for inside the hoof) and Farriers Formula (for outside hoof wall) have proven helpful, whether your veterinarian knows it or not.
- You want to be consistent, and avoid all medicinal herbs without specific veterinarian approval.
- You will want to keep your horse healthy, and neither over or under weight.
If there is any laminitis or founder issues, you MUST INTERVENE QUICKLY… before there is detachment, and absolutely before the coffin bone rotates. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN!
- Padding, and/or padded boots, can help… remember, you should use PREVENTIVE care (bilaterally) on the uninjured foot ALSO, while the healing is happening in the other foot compensating for the painful afflicted foot doesn’t get a ‘mechanical founder’ issue.
- Light exercise, walking only, on SOFT GROUND (sand or grass) CAN HELP… if there are no open wounds or abscesses, because it promotes circulation.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! In the case of founder, that ounce is worth 1,000 pounds of horse… and thousands of dollars in treatment costs.
As ROBERTA GLEICHER, author of Equine Nutrition Secrets, Dangers, and Solutions, pointed out when going through the drafts of this article, the variables in the causes are why it is so important to CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN IF YOU SUSPECT your horse might have any of the issues or concerns, before they actually become foundered. Quick, correct, and early treatment are absolutely key to any hope of preventing or minimizing damage.
Equine Vet J. 2004 Apr;36(3):255-60. Equine laminitis: cryotherapy reduces the severity of the acute lesion.van Eps AW, Pollitt CC. CONCLUSIONS: Cryotherapy, when applied to one foot, markedly reduced the severity of acute laminitis in this study. We propose that vasoconstriction (preventing delivery of haematogenous trigger factors) and hypometabolism (reduction in lamellar MMP activity) were the primary therapeutic mechanisms. POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: Although further research is needed, we suggest cryotherapy as a potentially effective prophylactic strategy in horses at risk of developing acute laminitis. PMID: 15147134 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Professor Jørgen S Agerholm, DVM, PhD, DVSci, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Copenhagen University in Denmark, conducted an important study, feeding 3 sets of horses three different feed protocols, then measuring the temperature of their coronary band multiple times a day for a few weeks. Their conclusion was that diet was found to have no influence ON CORONARY BANDS TEMPERATURES. The study only exposed one common fallacy: a high fructan meal does not always equate to a high temperature in the coronary band, just a high temperature in the coronary band doesn’t always mean founder. In fact, they learned that a horse can have a serious temperature variance among their hooves, as much as 62.6 Fahrenheit (or 17 Celsius) without any other issue, but that the hooves should usually be within a few degrees of each other, if there weren’t any external factors impacting the temperatures. Unusual heat in one or more hooves COULD STILL BE a valid sign there is some injury or illness issue that might need to be addressed. Horses acting differently, or like they are in pain, or walking on egg shells, should get immediate veterinary care. Horse owners should still use caution though, because laminitis cripples or kills numerous horses each year.
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~ To be continued…