Equine Laminitis



Rotated coffin bone.



No rotation.


Somewhere in time’s own space there must be some sweet pastured place

where creeks sing on and tall trees grow, some paradise where horses go.

For by the love that guides my pen, I know great horses live again.

Stanley Harrison

Well it is that time of year when the pastures start to green up and the sugars come to the top.  Some horses can’t handle this sudden onslaught of sugar and the result is laminitis.

Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae of the foot – the soft tissue structures that attach the coffin bone of the hoof to the hoof wall.  The inflammation and damage to the laminae causes extreme pain and leads to instability of the coffin bone.  When the coffin bone rotates it becomes founder.  The only sure way to know if the bone has rotated or become founder is by taking a set of x-rays.  Unfortunately the term “founder” is used loosely and what is just a case of laminitis is labeled founder.  You cannot have founder without laminitis but you can have laminitis without founder.

A good owner, veterinarian and farrier team can do a lot to help these horses if caught early enough.  In severe cases they can have a bad ending though where the coffin bone drops through the bottom of the foot.  It is usually in the front feet, all four feet can be affected.


  • Reluctant to move and they rock back on the hind quarters.
  • They will lie down a lot.
  • It will be hard for you to pick the leg up because of the pain  in the opposite limb
  • The hoof wall and coronary band are often warm to the touch.
  • A hoof tester will reveal pain  particularly when applied over the toe area.
  • The horse will have a strong, rapid digital pulse.

Laminitis can be caused by insulin resistance as well as retained placenta, overfeeding grain, septicaemic  conditions, obesity, and lameness which prevents weight bearing on one of the legs.

I recommend taking the horse off grain and put on dry lot until you are able to get a vet out to evaluate the situation.  The vet will figure out what has caused the laminitic episode and then devise a plan to get the horse on the road to recovery.  He/she will take x-rays and if there is any rotation they will get together with the farrier and decide what kind of a shoe package they want to use.  Steward clogs and heart bars are a common prescription.  I use a Myron Mclane pad and a bar shoe.

I have been lucky enough to work with Dr. Don Walsh founder of the Animal Health Foundation.  The AHF is dedicated to supporting research and education about the disease of equine laminitis.  Checkout their web page at http://www.ahf-laminitis.org.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  I appreciate it.  I just did the highlights about laminitis/founder.  I hope you enjoyed it and it was helpful.  Remember to spread the love.




3 thoughts on “Equine Laminitis

  1. Great lesson. Having had horses for decades, I too have heard many stories that reinforced “no hoof, no horse” Probably because it’s so true.

    More than once I have had a horse with soreness that meant soaking the hoof, packing it, and wrapping it good in a diaper with loads of duct tape. Never lost a horse, nor hoof, so I guess we did ok.

    I was lucky, my vet and farrier knew and respected each other, so I was confident that when the two of them were on the case, my horses were in good hands.

    The fear of losing a horse I loved because I missed an early warning sign of a hoof issue, was something that kept me motivated to keep hoof care a top priority.

    When my daughter was just a toddler, she’d taken to horses like a duck to water. I wanted her to really care for a horse, not just ride, so in addition to grooming the body, attention to hoof care was required every day and especially before riding. That girl can wield a hoof pick like no one else! And she is just as quick as I to point out a horse’s head or body movement that could indicate a hoof issue.

    I think one of the saddest things was when a friend’s horse had one sore hoof, but the counter foot, ignored too long, foundered and, with two feet foundering, a show horse was lost. True story that never should have happened.

    Your clients and your horses are so lucky…you are an owners best friend for soundness; a valued partnership for more ready-to-ride days.

    Sarah’s mini’s shoes were tiny, and I had Arabs, so our farrier always carried an assortment of smaller shoes. Most of our horses had good feet that didn’t require anything more than a typical trim or shoe.

    For years, as Dir. of Marketing for an equine supplement manufacturer; I had access to studies and research from vets and farriers from all over the world about hoof diseases and care. The hoof and joint supplements we made were amazing; (products of choice for Olympic level Equestrians in several countries now) I don’t currently have a horse, but if I do again, I will be sure to reach out to you for the latest research.

    Keep on writing, educating us, your readers; sharing your knowledge is such a gift to the rest of us. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s