Don’t put a laminitic horse on pasture – fresh grass is very high in sugar, especially in the spring, summer and the hottest part of the day.
Don’t feed oats, barley, corn, COB, grains or any other commercial grain feeds including extruded feeds – these (as well as grass) are all high in sugar and non-structural carbohydrates which increase blood sugar, insulin levels and cecal acids and toxins – all major causes of lamina inflammation.
Don’t feed high fat feeds or added oils. While current popular opinion promotes feeding horses poor quality fats for “cool” energy and for lowering the glycemic index of forage and grain, fats and oils congest the liver and lymph system, slow down digestive transit time, impede nutrient absorption, contribute to leaky gut, have no nutritional value and increase cortisol levels which elevates blood sugar.
Don’t feed alfalfa. While the high protein levels in alfalfa will lower the glycemic index and stabilize blood sugar in SOME horses, excess alfalfa will exacerbate laminitic symptoms in most horses by contributing to a leaky gut and/or by increasing the deposition of acids into the hoof joints.
Don’t soak your hay for longer than two to three weeks – any longer than that could increase hunger and stress levels as the sugar and/or protein levels may become deficient. Any hay that needs to be soaked long-term to maintain weight or soundness is not the right hay.
Don’t starve the overweight laminitic/metabolic horse – this creates stress causing unbalanced insulin levels, increased cortisol production, poor immunity and an increase in hoof inflammation. Feed small amounts of forage frequently by using slow feeders.
Don’t confine a laminitic horse no matter how sore they are – horses need movement and exercise to improve circulation and deliver nutrients to toxic and damaged hoof tissues. Let the sore horse decide how much movement he/she needs. Metabolic horses with laminitis need exercise to regulate blood sugar levels and to reverse their condition.
Don’t use glucosamine long-term, if at all – glucosamine is a type of sugar that strains the liver and depresses insulin production in sugar sensitive, overweight and/or metabolic horses.
Don’t accept hoof pathologies as normal (no matter what breed): flaring walls, bell-shaped hooves, cracking, splitting, soft soles, flat soles, long toes, high heels, contracted heels and/or under-run heels are all abnormal and can be fixed with a professional barefoot trim, exercise and a good diet.
Don’t always accept the label of “navicular” – this is an over-used diagnosis to explain unexplained symptoms. Many cases of so-called navicular are actually sub-clinical laminitis.
Don’t listen to well-meaning people who tell you that your horse won’t recover – they are misinformed.
Do feed horses a high fibre diet (e.g. hay, beet pulp, soybean hulls, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, wheat bran, wheat germ) – fibre detoxifies the liver and hindgut, regulates appetite, lowers the glycemic index of all feeds and encourages weight loss.
Do treat horses for a leaky gut if present – hindgut bacteria, acids and toxins are a major cause of laminitis. Use Pro-Colon probiotics, Pro-Dygest, Para+Plus and/or Vitamin B12.
Do treat horses for parasites – parasitic toxins exacerbate hoof inflammation and/or laminitis.
Do ensure a proper barefoot trim with good hoof mechanism. Note: a pasture trim is not a barefoot trim. A pasture trim is done to nail a shoe on, a barefoot trim is done to maximize proper hoof growth and performance. Educate yourself on different trimming methods.
Do also educate yourself on sub-clinical laminitis – this is a type of laminitis that shows no clinical signs of separation, digital pulse or hoof tenderness. It is a common cause of hoof soreness and is absolutely under-diagnosed!
Do know that the most common hoof nutrient deficiencies are selenium, silica and sulphur – all minerals which strengthen hoof wall, lamina and joint capsules.
Do also know that rotated hooves will correct themselves if the horse is fed an appropriate diet with the right supplements and is trimmed with a professional barefoot trim. Marijke has guided hundreds of laminitic horses in varying stages to 100% soundness – many of these horses were considered untreatable.
Do use boots and/or casts to relieve pain and encourage movement in the acute stages.
Do practice prevention – good food, good trims, good exercise!
Do read Healing Horses Their Way for an extensive resource of information on laminitis…and much more.
Happy Hooves, Happy Horses!
Marijke van de Water, B.Sc., DHMS
Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist
Medical Intuitive & Healer