About Laminitis and Founder: Understanding Laminitis & Founder in Horses

Most horse owner's have heard of the words Laminitis and Founder. Some owners have personally experienced the pain and discomfort their horse goes through, as well as the overwhelming emotional issues it raises to us as horse care takers, and the physical, as well as emotional toll it takes on our equine friends. Many have chosen to end their horses suffering not knowing there were alternatives, and that once through the healing phase or process your horse should be able to live a fairly normal life.

As someone who became all too familiar with laminitis and founder I want those of you who are coming to this page to know that there is hope - it is not a "death sentence" as most vets and farriers would lead you to believe, even if the coffin bone does penetrate the sole. Laminitis can be stopped and done so using natural products, homeopathics, herbs and supplements. It is time and patience, as well as a change in diet, and an experienced bare foot trimmer that will save your horse.

One of the most valuable sites I can refer you to in regards to educating yourself on hay and how hay may exacerbate laminitis and founder is https://www.safergrass.org/. Not only is there leading edge research, there are informative articles on Founder, Laminitis, Insulin Resistance and EPSSM. This site is an excellent resource, and starting place, for those needing to make changes in their horses diets! Another site is www.balancedequinenutrition.com which has a section on the NSC (sugar and non-soluable carbohydrates) in feed stuffs, concentrated feeds and even carrots are listed. Some horses are laminitic or have foundered due to diets which may be too high in sugars and starch.

What actually causes most laminitis cases is still not clearly understood, even if it is from, or following, a systemic illness, even after many many years of studies, the trigger mechanisim still illudes vet's and scientists. There are many theories, and most point to an inflammatory process within the body, including Cushing's and Pre-Cushing's conditions, some believe it starts with an unhealthy gut or digestive tract, which can be compromised from too many vaccines (vaccinosis) or chemical wormer's, along with cheap concentrated "bad" un-healthy bag feed with too many additives, soy and soy bi products, et al. Also suspect is all the chemicals from Round Up to pesticides and drying agents in almost all the hay we purchase for our horses these days, as well as the modifications made to alfalfa to make it more Round up tollerant. 
The Earth Song Ranch products can help to prevent this by keep your horses gut healthy with regular use. Other disorders that are known to cause laminitis are Cushing's Disease and Insulin Resistance (Metabolic Disorder), EPSSM is also suspected which may also be brought on with the amount of oil needed, and feeding the wrong kinds of oils, in the horses diet to prevent more tying up episodes. One of the suggestions for treating EPSSM is high doses of oils or fats which may also set up an inflammatory condition and actually cause laminitis depending upon the oils/ fats used.

The one thing Earth Song Ranch can do to help is to review your horses feeding program with you, and we have products that can help support a laminitic horse one of which is our Equine-Zyme product to keep your horses gut/intestinal tract healthy and with regular use it may help to prevent them from getting feed related episodes of laminitis or grass sickness which comes on in the spring. It can also be used after vaccines and chemical wormer's to re-establish gut flora. If you go to our Articles section and scroll down to Equine Feeding Recommendations you can read more about what we feed our horses, and other recommendations for working horses as well.

There is no need to go bankrupt treating your horse for this condition with huge vet and farrier bills for X-rays, expensive shoes and pads, (most horses can get by with barefoot trims and slip on boots) or for expensive drugs and pain killers that may slow the healing process, there are healing herbal tintures that can easy the discomfort.

We offer thoughts and advice on another way, another approach, a more natural way and it does take time and dedication, but for those who love their horses the way that I do, that is the sacrifice that we are willing to make! There are a number of groups now training and certifying "bare foot or natural trim" people who do not need to slap on shoes to help your horse, but are there to balance his foot, make him more comfortable, and are able to help him without causing him more pain for the most part. Can you just imagine what it must feel like for the horse with really sore feet to have a shoe nailed on?

There is also help with homeopathics but best done with the help of a veterinary homeopath such as Dr Kevin Fenton, DVM who can help you with dosing and with the appropriate remedies for your horse, he does schedule phone consults for out of area clients and also constitutional workups for your horse. 
At the bottom of this page are some resources for you to click on to various sites and decide what is best for your horse as there are several methods to choose from, and you can go to the various websites and find a natural trim person in your area. Go to my contacts page and you will find more I recommend, one being Kenny Williams, he will travel and from photos he can help your farrier with appropriate trims.

This dis-order called Laminitis and Founder is more then just a foot problem as my friend Lisa Ross-Williams of Natural Horse Talk has pointed out to me, and which she writes about on her educational website. It is really a "whole body issue" it is a systemic or even a metabolic issue, and can even be a long term mineral imbalance, all of which need to be addressed from the insides out, from the tip of their ears to the bottoms of their feet; from the hay you feed to the supplements and everything in between everything needs to be examined and addressed for the health of your horse.

Again, be sure to check the NSC Values of your concentrated feeds, grains, and pellets by clickin on this link to Balanced Equine Nutrition, they also have a great article on Insulin Resistance and Laminitis which is a must read for anyone who has a laminitic horse, or suspects Insulin Resistance in their horse.
It is a lot about nutrition and our horsekeeping methods, its about over vaccination, over worming, too many sugars and starches in their diet, hays too high in soluable carbohydrates, too low in valuable, needed, minerals and an unhealthy gut, as well as somethings that the people we entrust to take care of their feet just don't know about which can cause mechanical founder as well. Earth Song Ranch can help with balancing out your horses intestinal flora and also help to keep it healthy for the life of your horse!

There are internet groups with members from all over the country who have, and share, lots of really great information on Founder and Laminitis, one is Equine Founder and is also a Yahoo group.

What I have come to learn from this personal experience is that Laminitis and Founder can be a "preventable" dis-order for many horses. Although some founders can be mechanical, most are caused by common triggers such as an unhealth gut, vaccine and chemical wormer over use, too much grain or sweet feed overload, too many carrots or sweet treats, hay that is high in sugar and starch, concentrated bag feed with too much soy, soy bi products or other GMO ingredients, turning horses out on spring grasses, acorns, over vaccination and in some mini's and ponies, as well as some sensitive horses, it can be caused by rich spring grasses high in sugars. 
Some founders can be caused by medications, also a serious health crisis can also trigger a laminitic attack, as can colic or a retained placenta, EPM or other "dis-eases" can cause chronic abscessing too. In my research I have come to realize that many hays we feed are way too high in sugar and carbs and are we, also colorants, preservatives, herbicides and pesticides, so in not knowing, creating a new generation of horses with chronic metabolic dis-ease leading to laminitis and founder!

For hay analysis I have used https://equi-analytical.com/ they are one of the few labs in the country testing for sugars, and can also do a hay and ration analysis for you as well to balance the various nutrients which your horse may be lacking in his diet. Another site is Balanced Equine Nutrition, and they have a listing of all the pelletted, concentrated and complete feeds and their NSC values, which is very important to consider when feeding a metabollically challenged horse.

In further of my research I find that it is also appearing, more and more, that metabolic issues such as Cushings, Insulin Resistance (which are different but may have similar triggers), Thyroid imbalances, as well as suspected EPSM/EPSSM and EPM are also "likely" to bring on an episode of laminitis, so can Pigeon Fever, which may, or may not, lead to a full blown founder. All are painful and dibilitating. All for the most part can be managed, most nutritionally and supplementally!

Changes in diet must occur for most horses, including no sweet feeds, no carrots, no bag feed, only soaked pellets as a carrier for supplements, and maybe only an apple per day. Magnesium is an important nutrient, as is a healthy gut and doing an herbal detox in spring and fall often helps as well. 

Please review my article on General Equine Feeding Recommendations to find what I recommend as Feeding Recommendations and it has a lot of useful information to begin with for your horse.

Horse owners, especially those who have to board their horses, usually settle for the "customary" alfalfa hay, and a scoop or two of sweet feed, mostly for the convenience of the boarding stable owner/ operator, those owner's will not be able to continue do much in the way of a lot of changes, however some owner's will move their horses to and save their horses health. 
There are natural ways to help a horse - nutritionally, supplementally, herbally, homeopathically and with natural barefoot trims, especially once he is in a full blown attack. There are also specially made "horse boots" to help with foot discomfort during the healing process too many hoof boot manufacturers out there listen to your farrier trimmer for advice on what they would recommend. 

For now I would like to direct you to a few sites which have a lot of information for those seeking an alternative to the traditional "shoes and pads" so you can do what is best for your horse, make informed decisions, and find a bare foot trimmer in your area of the country who best suites your needs. If you go to my "Contact Us" section you will find the information about bare foot trimmers around the country - Contact us page. Please see below for other resources.