Sadly this is the time of year when we see a peak in cases of laminitis. The causes are complex and can be associated with diseases such as Cushings, Equine Metabolic Syndrome or very nasty infections. However spring grass is a significant risk factor and, when added to other things can tip them over the edge. Here are a few things that can help reduce the risk of laminitis:
- Keep the horse or pony’s feet trimmed so that the toes don’t get over long.
- Prevent the horse or pony’s condition getting above score 3. Follow this link to a handy guide to how to condition score your horse https://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Files/587645c7-8c76-450c-95fe-a30d010e3344/Right-Weight-leaflet.pdf
- Control the intake of fresh, spring pasture. Reducing the time that a horse is turned out is of limited value but grazing muzzles are very useful if they’ll keep them on! Get two different types though as they can rub and interchanging them can prevent this.
- The sugars in the grass are at their highest at the end of the day and at their lowest at dawn so turning them out for the morning only can help.
- Very short, bald pasture can result in stressed grass which can increase the risk. However reducing the size of the turnout area can help.
- Consider spraying off the grass in an area so that you’ve got an outside turnout area without grass.
- Get other diseases such as Cushings, EMS and infections diagnosed and treated quickly.
- Don’t overfeed the horse when it is in. They don’t need to be constantly eating and periods with no food pose considerably less risk than the risks posed by being overweight.