Diet induced laminitis is a metabolic disorder that affects hoof health. Please learn to treat the cause (what the horse is eating) while supporting the symptom (founder)
The information listed below has been found to help horses recover from both acute laminitis and long-term founder.
Where the word horse has been used the information applies equally to ponies, minis and donkeys.
Owners are advised to seek up to date Veterinary assistance if they suspect that their horse is suffering from a medical condition.
Where to start:
Remove the horse from pasture if grass is the suspected laminitis trigger.
Lush green spring grass is not the only type of grass that posses a problem - ‘dead’ dry summer grass and frozen ‘dead’ winter grass are founder traps.
Stressed grasses store carbohydrates i.e. drought, frost, or overnight temperatures below 5°C
Carbohydrate sensitive horses will founder on “dead” summer grass and “dead” frozen winter grass.
Reduce or eliminate high sugar foods – apples, carrots, molasses, sweetfeeds etc.
Feed hay – soak if necessary to remove excess carbohydrates (sugar)
Healthy horses spend portions of each day without eating. Encourage this behaviour in “greedy” horses by only offering hay for up to 18-20 hours per day - not 24/7!
Grazing recently limed paddocks can upset the calcium/magnesium balance which may trigger laminitis.
Encourage movement by either making a track for the horse to walk around while grazing (more info at http://www.equinerehab.co.nz/html/pasture.html) or add daily hand leading, straight lines, gentle corners, no sharp turns, with protective boots and pads when necessary - minimum of 10 mins 3x a day working up to 30 mins 3x a day until recovered. Exercise on flat, firm surfaces and comfortable hoof loading accelerate the rehabilitation of damaged feet.
Things to feed:
* feed soaked, non molassed beet (Speedy Beet) with meadow chaff add a vit/min supplement that does not contain molasses, or artificial sweeteners
* offer free choice natural rock salt (Utah or Himalayan rock salt)
* add magnesium to diet (oxide or pidolate form)
* re-establish gut flora (probiotics)
* feed a toxin binder if the horse has been exposed to endophtyes during grazing (paspalum, phalaris, rats tail, tall fescue or rye grass)
contact your vet or feed rep for availability and dosage of supplements
Remedies to consider:
* Re-establish stomach ph (apple cider vinegar as a daily drench or in the water trough or mixed with supplementary feed)
* Use Homeopathic Arnica or herbal Willow Bark, Devils Claw or other natural pain relief when needed
* If hormonal issues are suspected Chasteberry fluid extract may be of benefit.
* Herbal or Homeopathic detox may also be of benefit
contact your equine naturopath or holistic vet for availability and dosage of herbs, remedies etc.
* phenylbutazone, only if horse refuses to eat, drink and/or move.
3 days on 1 day off
contact your vet for dosage, treatment etc.
Remove horse from pasture. Place drinking water, feed and hay at ground level
Allow 24-hour turnout in a grass free zone; try to avoid small areas that will restrict movement i.e. stables, yards
Ensure the horse has at least close visual contact with other horses if it is unable to have physical contact with another horse/horses.
Investigate possible laminitis triggers in the pasture (high carbohydrate, high fructan grasses) www.safergrass.org If allowing grazing of safe grasses, early morning is the best time. Do not give a laminitic horse access to grass in the afternoon or overnight. Feed non clover/rye hay instead during this time. Use haynets with small holes to slow feeding.
Ensure minimal use of chemical wormers, insect repellents, drugs, vaccinations etc (many of which are laminitis triggers in sensitive horses)
Ensure the horse has regular non-invasive physiologically correct hoof trims
Soak feet in water and apple cider vinegar daily if abscessing (10 mins, up to coronet level)
Allow abscesses to burst out naturally the coronet (unless under veterinary advice) do not cut into the sole (the wall grows at approx. 1cm per month, the sole grows at around 1cm per 3 months so there will be a hole in your horses’ sole for a very long time if you dig at it!)
If the horse/pony has not shown an improvement in comfort levels in 3 days,
it is still being exposed to laminitis triggers.
Allow the horse the time it needs to heal.
Each horse is an individual with differing pain thresholds, immune systems and healing responses.
Each horse dictates their own recovery rate depending on these factors and other environmental conditions
Regular natural hoof care can help foundered horses/ponies/donkeys recover quicker.
A balanced trim helps the damaged hoofwall and sole grow in with a healthier and stronger attachment to the internal structures.
Natural hoof care is highly beneficial in restoring comfort levels and encouraging correct hoof growth in horses that have suffered from metabolic founder.
However it should be noted that if these types of horses/ponies/donkeys do not have the necessary lifestyle changes implemented as per the above suggestions, they can suffer another laminitic episode and inflammation and damage will re-occur.
Correct day-to-day management of horses/ponies/donkeys with metabolic founder is essential.
For more information go to
The information presented here is a guide only and is not a replacement for Veterinary or Naturopathic advice.
Please always seek help from a Health Care Professional if your horse is suffering from any medical condition.