A bit of Background
It all started one hot summer stormy night in January:
We had an enormous electrical storm one night, storms are the norm in the summer months, but this one was seriously electrically charged. It took down most of our electricity, and we were without power for the next 2 days. Did this cause my horse to suddenly be lame the next day? I was not sure.
She was hobbling slightly on the front left, I thought she had probably slipped and will be better in the morning. The next day she was lame in both front feet. And had that typical (what I now know) Laminitis pose where they push out there front legs leaning back into their hindquarters, trying to get the weight off their toes.
|A typical laminitis pose!|
Photo courtesy of:
- I called my vet for assistance.
- The vet asked me to check for any heat on her hooves. There was nothing abnormal -but we are talking January in Zululand, which equals frigging hot all round.
- I was asked to check down her tendons for any re-action change - Nothing.
- The general conclusion was: That she had probably injured her neck or back from possibly taking a tumble whilst out running around during the storm. Apparently, according to the vet, the horse can display a similar stance to laminitis from a lower neck injury. She should recover in a few days
- My mare is now lame on all 4 legs, and can hardly walk. I am also battling to get her up from lying down. It is not good for a horse to lie down for extended periods of time, as it puts too much pressure on their organs. As is typical to any horse owner this was now a Sunday, and I made the decision to call our closest vet out (which is 80km away)
- The vet did all the same checks I did a couple of days ago. No temperature, heart rate was a bit high (60) which can be an indication of pain. No heat in the feet. Vet's conclusion: A fall with injury to the lower part of the neck as there was slight swelling across her shoulders.
- He put her onto Flunexin for 4 days to help with the pain and inflammation
- No improvement whatsoever. I asked for more pain killers. The vet changed her onto a different pain killer for another 4 days. But said she wouldn't be allowed any more after that for at least a 10 day break, as it can cause stomach ulcers.
- My farrier very conveniently and luckily did his 6 weekly rounds. He examined my mare and is convinced without a doubt that she has been mis-diagnosed and that she definitely has laminitis. He suggested taking her immediately off her concentrates.
- I contacted my vet to let him know, He asked to see her again to check his diagonosis. Which he later considered his own (the vet) to be correct, not the farrier. As I am sure you can imagine, I was very confused on what route to go and who's advice to take.
- My vet consulted with a horse vet, and got back to me, saying it is laminitis. And that in their opinion it would be best to put her down. They suggested doing x-rays to see if the Pedal boned had turned / dropped in which case they said there is no hope. I was devastated!
- I consulted with my farrier who has had a lot of experience in laminitis cases, to which he totally disagreed with the vet. He said you can save a horse with laminitis even if the pedal bone has dropped, and in his experience: laminitis will heal! It is only about 5% of cases where you actually end up having to put the horse down. This gave me huge hope!
- I now at least knew what I was dealing with and on the advice of my farrier, had taken her completely off her concentrates, by this stage she was also off her pain killers. There was zero improvement, but it was also not getting worse.
- And so started my research:
Even though I knew I had to get Fire off her molasses rich concentrated feed, My intuition still told me that this had to be diet related (as most things are). Which meant I would still need to get whatever she needed into her.
I did a whole stack of research, with a few very interesting helpful sites which I shall quote from below, so that my story might also help you in your research.
- I found Pinterest (Search Laminitis in horses) quite helpful and pinned what I considered the most helpful pins onto my board "Furry Pet Care"
- This site is very informative on what a laminitis horse is lacking in its diet. And how to fix it.
- This site gives great alternative therapy techniques and homeopathic remedies
- For showing the progression and how to see it in the white line of the hoof look here
- There are quite a few Facebook chat groups about horses with Laminitis. You may wish to also check those out.
As far as I understand: A Laminitic horse more than likely has an insulin problem and needs to be taken off all sugar immediately. Our marulas are out in full fruit in January, maybe this is what set Fire over the edge... coz, oh boy... she does love those sweet juicy marulas that have dropped all over the ground. My horse has 200 plus hectares to roam free on, plenty of space to work off the sugar. I confine them at night, their night paddock is about 1ha in size. Admittedly they are more lap pets than riding pets. They have a lovely, cushy, relaxed life!
Many laminitis horses have elevated insulin levels in their blood. The reason the insulin is elevated is that it is not able to get into the cells. Normally when a sugar or carbohydrate is eaten, the blood sugar levels increase, insulin is secreted by the pancreas, glucose is carried into the cells by the insulin and the blood sugar goes back to normal. In insulin resistance, the cell walls are too stiff to let the insulin do its job properly. So the glucose, instead of providing energy for the cells, gets stored as fat.And....
domestic horses are given huge amounts of high nutrient grasses and confined to much smaller areas. This results in a horse who consumes more sugars than it's body can handle - as it's not burning them off with movement - and this is often the main cause of laminitis in horses.Nutritional support is very important to a horse with laminitis. There are different views on the web about most of these things, but this is what resounded with me:
- The horse must be able to move freely but within the confines of a paddock, She needs to be able to burn off any sugar in her body. Also a horse that does not move is more likely to get colic. A horse's digestive system is vital to their continual movement.
- Take the shoes off and do regular bare-foot trimming.
- There are different view on whether or not to put in a wedge on the heel or not. After some research, I decided against this, as people who had gone this route said it did not help, and eventually the wedge was removed. The hoof also naturally changes its shape over the laminitis period in an attempt to rectify itself. I decided to let the body attempt to heal itself.
|Fire being super inquisitive about a python in her paddock.|
Horses and ponies with EMS often have telltale symptoms, including a tendency toward obesity, insulin resistance and recurrent laminitis. Abnormal fat deposits along the crest of the neck, tail-head and above the eyes are typical, even when the horse is at a normal weight. The condition most often occurs in ponies and other breeds that evolved under harsh conditions and tend to be easy keepers.Horses with PPID may have symptoms similar to EMS, such as patchy fat deposits and insulin resistance, but PPID usually begins to appear in older horses (over age 15). They may also start to lose topline muscling and develop a thick haircoat that sheds out later than normal, or eventually not at all.If you suspect your horse has either of these conditions, schedule a vet visit for blood tests that will help confirm a diagnosis. If your horse has a metabolic disease, consider it a huge warning flag that he is at high risk for pasture-associated laminitis.
- To get fire off sugar
- To get her weight down
- To give her the Minerals & Vitamins she needed to heal.
- Get her gut flora right (as with most things, this also start in the gut)
- 1 cup Bran
- 3/4 Cup Oats
- 1/2 tsp Salt (I used pink Himalayan as it has more trace elements and minerals)
- 1 capsule Vitamin E
- 2 Tbls Linseed / Flaxseed crushed in a coffee grinder or food processor. (do not soak! See why here): High in omegas and Essential Fatty Acids. It also has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties.
- 1 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tbls Kombucha Vinegar: This is optional, I brew Kombucha so I added some, it is very good for probiotic health as well as joint health. The vinegar has no more sugar left in it.
- Rooibos tea. Steep a teabag and allow to cool. Look at the awesome advantages here
- 1/4 tsp Blue green algae: for nutrients. "Natures Choice" do a Spirulina powder.
- 2 capsules Co-Enzyme Q10: OPen up the capsules. Reverses free radical damage and found to be very effective with Laminitis.
- 1 capsule of Vitamin C: Open it up. Great anti-oxident, nutrient and Immune booster.
- 1/2 tsp MSM powder: "Nature's choice" does a powder version: Important for the sulphur content which is vital in the laminae of the hoof.
- 4 tablets Arinca: crushed. For pain
- 4 tablets Magnesium #8 tissue salt
- 1 tsp Protexin: an animal pro-biotic.
- 1 tsp L-Glutamine powder: An important amino acid during stress, and to help tight muscles.
- Silicia Tissue Salt #12
- #11 Tissue salt
- Eco Circ (Eco-Vet)
- Eco Hair (Eco-Vet)
|Out exploring the bush - Fire before her Laminitis|
- Spurwing Feeds: Pasture Plus
- Equus Feeds: Safe & Lite
- SA-Horse Feeds - Speedi Beet
- EquiFeeds: Kwik Beet
- Digestion mix (the herbal horse)
- Ultimate mix (the herbal horse)
- Salt lick
- Royalynne (Equine Care, pet care) facebook group. I would recommend looking into her products.
1 month later:
I am absolutely amazed by the improvement in Fire. I have started letting her out her camp again to graze with Thunder (my gelding) in the afternoons. It was almost a month to the day, that she attempted trotting again on her own.
1 year later:
Fire contracted Laminitis again exactly 1 year later. This time from the delicious Marulas which drop indigenous fruit all over the farm. This is more than likely what set her off a year ago. She does love those sweet Marulas!. I had to keep her within her paddock for 4 months with no Marula trees! This time she was not nearly as bad, and recovered a lot faster. A lot of people suggest a dry sand paddock. Mine is not. It is grassed, but I cut the grass short. The grass is green from summer rains and she can run around in the paddock to burn off excess sugar and to graze. She still improves doing this.