What Is Laminitis Or Horse Founder? Condition Phases And Treatment : Hoof Care Guide 2022


Laminitis, also known as founder in horses, is an issue that should be of paramount concern to all horse owners. Laminitis and founder are conditions that can affect horses of any breed. It is necessary to first provide an explanation of the terms “laminitis” and “founder” in order to ensure that the topic is comprehended in its entirety.

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What is Laminitis?

Laminitis is an excruciating condition that affects the hoof of the horse. The expansion of the substances that attach the hoof wall to the coffin bone is what causes this condition. Laminae is the name given to these types of substances.

A horse that suffers from laminitis may progress through one of the following four stages:

  • The length of time spent in the developmental phase ranges somewhere between the first 20 and 72 hours. This is the period of time after the “cause” and prior to the onset of the initial symptoms of lameness. During this phase, there are very few clinical signs present. During this stage, the hoof wall should appear unaltered from its normal state.
  • The duration of the acute phase, which begins approximately 34-72 hours after the first signs of lameness, is approximately 34-72 hours. In most cases, the heat will be located in the hoof at this point. The appearance of the hoof wall will not be altered in any way.
  • Sub-Acute Phase: The onset of this stage occurs 72 hours after the initial lameness was noticed by the patient. At this point in the recovery process, the appropriate treatment has been administered, the level of pain is decreasing, and it is imperative that appropriate care be maintained in order to avert any further injury. The full recovery could take anywhere from ten to fourteen months to complete. During this stage, the hoof wall might appear to have a “ring” of protruding hoof growth that will continue to grow downwards from the coronet. This is because the hoof will continue to grow from the coronet.
  • Chronic laminitis is a stage that can be avoided if the disease is detected and treated early enough. This is the case if the disease is caught early enough. At this point, the structures that are contained within the hoof have undergone irreversible change; more specifically, the coffin bone has rotated downward at an angle, beginning with the front tip. This is the point at which our terminology comes together, and the term “founder” comes into play.

What is Horse Founder?

The actual cause of founder in horses is a destabilization of the hoof capsule, which causes a misalignment of the bony structures that are found within the hoof. The attachment of the inner hoof wall to the coffin bone has been torn, which results in the bone structures becoming less stable. Because the “laminae” are no longer providing support, the “coffin bone” has now begun to rotate in a downward direction.

Founder may manifest itself on the exterior of the hoof wall as “rings” of protruding growth. These rings are signs of stress that can develop over time and are visible to the naked eye. These rings will grow downwards from the coronet, and then they will be removed at some point. As a result of the misalignment of the hoof structures, the hoof wall might start to curl upwards at the toe, and the sole might start to become flatter.

Causes of Founder / Laminitis

It is possible to divide the factors that lead to laminitis and founder in horses into two primary categories: Systemic as well as mechanistic

  • The term “systemic” refers to anything that has to do with the regular operation of the horse’s entire body system as a whole. For example: improper diet, infections, etc
  • Something that has altered the normal function of a horse’s movement is said to be mechanical. For instance, improper farriery, tragic insult (injury), and other similar examples

Dietary concerns are one of the most common situations that can lead to laminitis or founder. The majority of the causes of laminitis or founder fall into the systemic category.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Laminitis and Founder

Laminitis and founder are both conditions that can be very detrimental to the health of a horse. It is also possible to control and manage this condition with the help of a correct diagnosis and treatment. Participation from both a veterinarian and a farrier is required. If laminitis is diagnosed in its early stages, there are a lot of things that can be done to help prevent it from becoming chronic. If the stage has already progressed to the chronic stage, X-rays should be taken to determine the degree of rotation, and appropriate treatment options should be considered.

If the patient’s chronic condition has progressed to the point where it is considered a “sinker,” it is important to keep in mind that rotation might not be visible on an X-ray of the coffin bone. A sinker is a misalignment of the bony structure that begins higher up than just the coffin bone and extends down to the pelvis. In the event that the coffin bone rotation and the surrounding symptoms do not match, additional X-rays of the coronet area should be taken for inspection.

In the worst cases, founder and laminitis can be fatal, so it is imperative that you seek professional help as soon as possible if you notice any symptoms of these conditions.

Increase Your Horse Knowledge

When problems arise as a result of owning a horse, they can be managed more effectively through the application of accurate knowledge in the form of diagnosis and treatment. It is obvious that it is in the best interest of every horse owner to speed up the horse’s rate of recovery and reduce the likelihood that these kinds of situations will occur in the first place.

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