why laminitis happens to horses

Why does laminitis happen in horses?


  • Every horse’s case of laminitis is going to be different. Severity, duration, and outcome are all variables that must be taken on a case-by-case basis.

However, there are some main reasons for laminitis to occur:


  • Repetitive trauma


  • A severe lameness, fracture, or injury to one leg


  • An inflammatory disease process


  • Metabolic disorders


horse in buckets of ice

Call your vet and get your horse into some ice for a few DAYS if you suspect laminitis.


Repetitive trauma:


Repetitive trauma-induced laminitis occurs when there is one instance of trauma, like a horse that has galloped along hard surfaces. This is commonly referred to as “road founder”. However, smaller traumas over time can add up to laminitis as well. The surfaces that your horse lives on and exercises on are important.


Supporting limb laminitis:


When a horse has a severe injury to one leg, such as a fracture, infection, or street nail, the other leg takes the brunt of a horse’s weight. Supporting limb laminitis can occur in a healthy leg due to the additional stress placed upon it. This usually develops over time. One famous example of this is Barbaro, who was eventually euthanized from the laminitis in his healthy legs.


Inflammatory disease process:


Systemic illnesses in a horse can also lead to laminitis. Colitis, or inflammation of the colon, is one common example of such a case, just like colic, pneumonia, or a retained placenta. Even fevers of known (or unknown) origin can trigger laminitis in a horse. When the horse’s whole body fights infection, the hooves can develop laminitis. There’s more to read about fevers and founder here! A horse that overeats his grain will also fall into this general category of system inflammation.


blood drawn from jugular vein on horse

It’s easy to have your horse tested for metabolic disorders.


Metabolic disorders:


And finally, metabolic disorders. The dreaded Cushing’s Disease and Insulin Resistance, to name a few. Strangely, age is not typically a factor here. It’s the overweight horse, the horse with a poor or unhealthy diet, and the horse that doesn’t exercise much. It’s super easy to have your vet run some tests to check for metabolic disorders.


When you work with your veterinarian and start to analyze your horse’s risk factors, you can make changes to your horse’s diet, footing, exercise routine, and overall weight. You will also need to stay vigilant against diseases and fevers, using your thermometer daily to monitor things. Be on the lookout for lamenesses, and make sure your horse’s exercise plan is appropriate and done on the safest footing.


For more about laminitis, read these gems:

Watching out for laminitis


Weird facts about laminitis


Risk factors for laminitis


go shopping button for horse products


If you need some laminitis supplies, order them here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which doesn’t cost you anything extra! It also might send me a little commission, which I totally appreciate!



For daily temperature taking.

To monitor gut sounds and heart rate.

These ice packs make for easy cooling of your horse’s legs and hooves. They last for hours.

This tall boot can be filled with ice or ice packs to help the horse with laminitis.

These squishy boots are great to give your horse some major comfort.

These affordable boots can be filled with ice to help your horse.

Thank you!