Weird facts about laminitis in horses!


Laminitis, the arch-nemesis of horse owners everywhere, is a horrible disease that also has a few weird things to know about it.


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  • Of course, this won’t be the exact same for every horse, but as laminitis research and understanding progresses, we learn more about how the disease works. This translates into how we can make the disease more preventable and treatable! In the meantime, here are some interesting facts about laminitis that might surprise you:


horse hoof that is barefoot up close


  • Black walnut tree shavings contain a toxin that produces laminitis, often within one day of a horse standing in sawdust and shavings that contain black walnut. The toxins enter the hoof through the hoof wall. Interesting fact – the butternut tree is also a trigger. If you use shavings from a mill, you must make sure there are no black walnut or butternut tree parts in there! These are common trees for furniture making, so your sawdust/shavings supplier should be well versed in what they process.


  • Since I’m sure that everyone out there knows their horse’s normal resting heart rate… (Ahem…)… you might be able to tell a few days before laminitis sets in that the resting heart rate increases very slightly. About 5 or so beats per minute, a few days before lameness sets in. More on how to measure TPR here!


vet listening to a horse's heart

Know your horse’s NORMALS!


  • We all know that horse hooves will heat up when the laminitis starts to set in, but did you know that the hooves actually spend a few hours being ICY COLD before the heat sets in? Many horse owners never notice this as it’s short-lived.


  • You can significantly slow or stop the chemical triggers that cause laminitis. Icing your horse’s laminitis hooves for 24-48 hours physically slows the rate at which the chain reaction of chemicals tells your horse’s feet to inflame. Combined with a protocol from your Veterinarian, this is helpful and pain-relieving for your horse!


  • A horse with laminitis will change the way the hoof grows. A healthy hoof grows more on the front part of the hoof and less on the quarters (sides). A hoof with laminitis grows more heel than the front. Ever thought about taking some photos every time your horse is shod? This will give you something to track growth with over time.


  • A horse with laminitis or a horse that has had laminitis is more likely to repeatedly develop abscesses over time. Ouch. Up your level of diligence while monitoring digital pulses and hoof health.



screen with many angles of hoof x-rays

X-rays can help determine if your horse is foundering.


  • Laminitis is not the same thing as founder. Laminitis is the act of the internal structures of the hoof swelling. Founder is the actual sinking/rotation/change in angles of the bones inside the hoof. Derived from an old nautical term describing a foundering (sinking) ship. Nowadays, both terms are used interchangeably.


Maybe this gives you some more insight into laminitis and how to spot an treat it, or maybe it just gives you more knowledge to share around the barn.

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