We all know the expression “prevention is better than the cure”, and this is particularly relevant when it comes to laminitis in horses! An inflammation of the tissue inside the hoof, it can be extremely painful, potentially leading to lameness or fatality if not treated early enough. At The Insurance Emporium, we hate seeing any animal suffer, so we’ve spoken to our horse health expert to find out some tips to prevent laminitis in horses!
Knowing if your horse could be at risk of developing laminitis could be crucial to catching the problem early! The most common causes can include obesity, Cushing’s syndrome and equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). If your horse hasn’t been tested for these, it might be advisable to speak to your vet about doing so.
Watch their weight
It’s important to keep an eye on your horse’s weight. You could use monthly body condition scoring, a weekly weigh tape or a weighbridge. If you find that your horse if gaining weight, it’s best to act early before the problem gets out of hand.
If you do notice your horse is gaining weight, you might want to restrict their grazing! You could use grazing muzzles, an all-weather turnout area, or fence off a small paddock so as to create a bare grazing patch. Avoiding times when fructans (sugars) within grass are high might also help prevent weight gain – usually these are at their lowest between late night and early morning.
Get a plan
Aside from grazing, you can control the forage your horse has access to, avoiding starches and sugars, and including treats where possible. When feeding your horse hay, try soaking it for twelve hours to reduce soluble carbohydrate content. If you like, you could have your forage analysed, which might help you work out the amount they need each day. This means you can weigh out the correct quantity whenever you prepare their feed.
There might be other methods of controlling your horse’s weight. For example, if they’re prone to piling on the pounds during spring, try to use the winter months to reduce their weight. You might also find that their eating can be slowed down by double netting hay, using a small holed net or commercial slow hay feeder. Regular exercise can also be a key method for weight loss in horses, and has the added benefit of increasing insulin resistance!
If you think your horse might have laminitis, or you want further advice on helping your pony lose weight, the best thing to do is speak with your vet. Also bear in mind that ensuring your horse has regular farrier visits might help, as they can address hoof balance problems, and identify early signs of the problem. With the proper level of attention and planning, you should be able to keep your horse’s hooves healthy and pain free!
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