As an EP, I hate laminitis. It can affect any breed or size of horse at any age, fat or thin. Most people know the signs of acute laminitis – rocking back, barely able to walk, sweating with pain, but did you know that sometimes you can spot it early? Here is a check list of things to watch out for:
1/ Raised digital pulse. You shouldn’t be able to feel your horses’ pulse around the fetlock. If you can, there are 3 possible causes – over rugging causing over-heating, an abscess brewing (if the pulse is in one leg) or laminitis (if the pulse is in more than one foot). For a video on where to find the digital pulse (or hopefully not find it) check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK0Qji4Zol4
2/ Obesity. Although laminitis is NOT limited to fat ponies, an overweight horse is at a higher risk of developing insulin resistance and therefore becoming prone to laminitis. Condition score your horse regularly https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/how-body-score-your-horse to assess weigh gain or loss.
3/ Cresty neck. Get in to the habit of giving your horses’ neck a waggle! If the neck suddenly becomes thicker than usual and starts to harden up, get them off the grass and consult your vet/hoof care provider.
Laminitis can be caused by many things, but most horses in the UK who suffer from chronic laminitis have an underlying metabolic condition. If you are unlucky enough to encounter laminitis this year, talk to your vet about a cushings test and/or testing for EMS.