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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

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 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Dr. Getty;

My question is two fold. I am currently in the process of purchasing two Racking Horse mares as potential broodmares for my brand new farm. Unfortunatly, during the vet check, we discovered that the older mare (8) has approximately a 3 degree rotation in her right front foot and >1 degree rotation in her left. She is not at all lame, but is somewhat sensitive in her toes. We didn't x-ray the younger mare (4), but it is reasonable to assume that she could develop the same problem as her dam. First of all, can they loose the weight and heal enought to be ridden and carry foals? and two, what can I do, sith diet and exercise to expedite the healing process? I've downloaded your horse and you form and will send all the particulars.
Thanks for your time,
Susan Ellison

Where are you from? Bell

How did you locate this forum? Web surf

Re: founder

Hi Susan,

From your description, I’m assuming that both mares are overweight. Any horse that has experienced laminitis (founder), is more prone to develop it again, so losing weight is critical. As far as whether or not they can be ridden and carry foals, that would be a question that your veterinarian is best suited to answer. Certainly, bringing their weight down to normal would be important in preventing further damage. During pregnancy, a mare will gain a considerable amount of weight, so I would wait until she has attained a lower weight before breeding her.

Now, about the issue of diet and exercise to expedite the healing process – it is not likely that the rotation of the coffin bone will reverse itself. But, you definitely want to avoid a relapse of laminitis. Without my knowing specifically what caused their laminitis, it is difficult to give specific advice. In general, however, laminitis is caused by a carbohydrate overload, where carbohydrates overwhelm the bacterial flora in the hindgut, leading to the production of endotoxins. This can occur when horses graze on lush, young pastures that are high in sugar (fructans). Also, grains are high in easily digestible carbohydrates. Therefore, with a horse that has foundered, it is best to avoid grain all together, and stick with high quality forages. If extra energy is needed for work, a high-fat top-dressing is useful. So, the goal here would be prevention, rather than treatment, since the rotational damage has already occurred.

Of course, once I take a look at your “You and Your Horse” questionnaire, I’ll get a clearer picture of the circumstances. In the meantime, I hope these horses work out for you.

All the best with your new farm,

Dr. Getty

Re: founder

our 11 year TWH mare seems to have foundered. She is not wanint to walk and seems very tender footed. we have her at a barn with very experienced people who say they have never had a horse founder. Our mare is not overweight and I cant see a rotation nor is her foot hot. How long will she be lame? and what else can we do to help her heal? HOw long is the healing process? Thank you

Where are you from? Eugene Oregon

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: founder

Hello Marje,

Founder (laminitis) is a medical emergency and your veterinarian should be contacted without delay. Founder can be cured in a matter of days, if the attack is not too severe. However, it can also lead to lameness, and even worse, if not treated. At this point, until you get medical care and have it diagnosed, take your mare completely off grain and pasture. Confine her to an area where she cannot run or move around too much, such as her stall or a small paddock. Feed her high quality hay, and plenty of fresh, clean water.

There are nutritional approaches toward healing. First, however, you’ll want to give her a pain killer. I do not recommend Bute for founder, since it can compound the problem. Aspirin, however, thins the blood, reduces inflammation, and also reduces pain. Your vet will likely recommend special shoes to take pressure off the foot. This should be done as soon as possible.

Once you have a clear diagnosis, let me know and I’ll give you some nutritional suggestions. I don’t generally like to recommend my services on this forum, but in this case, I would strongly encourage you to have her overall feeding plan evaluated. Once a horse founders, the likelihood of a relapse is very high. Therefore, a preventive feeding approach is a good idea.

Here is an overview of what occurs during laminitis:

During the first stage of founder, the hoof can become quite cold, due to lack of circulation. The resulting oxygen deprivation causes some of the cells of the laminae to die. This loosens the connection between the laminae and the outer hoof wall.
As the condition progresses, the next phase involves a return of blood flow to the area where it had been diminished, often with great force. This phase is characterized by a hot feeling when touching the hoof. The horse will exhibit lameness and have a characteristic stance where she will lean back on her back legs to take the pressure off of her front feet and appear to be “walking on eggs.”

At this stage, tiny clots may appear in the smaller arteries of the foot that can block blood flow and raise blood pressure inside the food. This causes severe pain. When the horse puts pressure on the foot, the coffin bone can move away from its normal position and point down toward the sole. This is due to the weakened and/or damaged laminae, plus the fluid collection between the hoof wall and the laminae.

Please write again and let me know how she is doing.

All the best,

Dr. Getty