Overcoming Laminitis: Benny’s Story

I am very excited for a new monthly addition to my blog–The Naturally Healthy Horse of the Month!  Each month, I will feature a horse that has overcome some sort of obstacle with the help of natural or holistic care.

The horse I am featuring this month is Benny, a 15 year Tennessee Walker, who overcame a bout of acute laminitis with the help of several holistic modalities and the persistence and loving care of his guardian, Regina Shell.




Regina purchased Benny from a ‘rent-to ride’ stable twelve years ago.   The blue roan sabino gelding was a little on the thin side and was somewhat “shut-down” according to Regina.

“He had been ‘padded’ (TWH show style) and he was weary of having his feet handled. It took some time, with gentle, quiet work, to overcome this issue.”  Regina had his shoes and pads removed though and has kept Benny barefoot ever since.


Benny and Regina

Benny and Regina


With patience, Regina worked with Benny and slowly gained his trust.  Benny was doing well, but then, about seven years ago, he developed acute laminitis when Regina moved him to a new barn and pasture that had lush spring grass.

“I noticed him walking ‘easily’ one evening,” Regina said.  “I looked for the obvious–stone bruise, rock stuck in the sulcus, etc.  The possibility of acute laminitis didn’t cross my mind.”

Regina called her vet, who promptly diagnosed Benny with laminitis.  The vet gave Benny a dose of banamine and bute and suggested putting him in the round corral with a flake of hay twice per day to clean out his gut.

The barefoot trimmer that Regina had been using suggested several tests and drugs that he thought would help Benny, but Regina opted for a different route–a more holistic route.   “I knew in my heart that there was a better way,” she said.

Regina found a new barefoot trimmer for Benny and then began using a myriad of different holistic modalities, including applied kinesiology (muscle testing), acupressure, and Reiki (Japanese form of energy healing) in order to help Benny.  She also used Young Living essential oils (“vetiver for pain, lemon for circulation, dill and cinnamon for blood sugar balance, Valor (a blend) for emotional support, Peace & Calming (a blend) to help keep him calm”).

Regina used several homeopathic remedies, cell salts and nutritional supplements to aid in Benny’s rehabilitation.  “They provided the support, in each individual facet, that was needed at that time,” she said.

Benny’s hooves developed a deep ring (often called a ‘founder ring’) after the episode, but it grew out over time.  It took about 8-12 months, but he completely recovered from his bout with acute a laminitis.    Regina says he is 100% sound now and has not shown any residual side effects.  “Benny is in much better health now–not that he was bad before,” she said.

Regina gradually re-introduced grass in his diet, and today, Benny happily enjoys 24/7 turnout in a large, wooded pasture with his ‘herd’ of three mares.  Regina said that he had been previously stalled at night, but “I know by his demeanor that he greatly prefers it this way.”




His diet consists of a vitamin/ mineral supplement called Barn Bag by Life Data Labs, Omega Horseshine (ground flax-seed), OptiZyme by Manna Pro (probiotic), MSM (joint support), Himalayan pink sea salt (fine ground), a liver support supplement, a cinnamon/chromium blend for blood sugar support/stabilization, and a drop of organic oregano oil on an as needed basis for immune support (“I muscle test him to see if/when he needs it,” said Regina).  He has free choice hay available during the winter.

Benny’s feet are trimmed by his barefoot trimmer every four weeks and Regina says she “religiously checks his nutritional supplements (using muscle testing) to see when I need to add/subtract anything in his diet.”

Regarding Benny’s experience with laminitis, Regina said, “I believe that it made our bond stronger.  He knew that his “mama” was taking care of him!”


Benny’s story is a great testament to natural equine health and goes to show that holistic modalities can be successful, even with serious issues like laminitis.  Wishing Benny continued health and happiness–sounds like he’s in great hands with Regina!









Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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6 Responses

  1. AnneMarie Azijn says:

    Lucky Benny!

  2. Selma says:

    I have a 15y/o SSHTW. He was just diagnosed with Laminitis in all 4 feet. His white line is stretched. I have him on a dry lot with 2 flakes of a hay per day. Can you tell me how bad your horse was? Were you able to get the re-attachment of the lamina?

    • then5925 says:

      Hi Selma, I can’t answer your question about Benny (I don’t think he was too bad though) but I am concerned that your horse is not getting enough to eat. A starvation isn’t the best answer for laminitis and 2 flakes of hay per day is not enough. As long as your hay is low in sugar, he should be able to eat all he wants. Withholding food causes intense stress for horses and will not help him heal. Testing your hay for NSC’s is highly recommended. 10% or less is best for these horses. If it’s slightly higher than 10%, you can soak the hay for about 30 minutes to reduce sugars. Dr. Juliet Getty (www.gettyequinenutrition.com), Katy Watts (safergrass.org) and the ECIR Yahoo group (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/EquineCushings/info) are all great resources for laminitis.

    • Regina says:

      Hi there,
      Thankfully Benny only had a mild case. Today his hooves are completely sound. Be sure that any food stuffs, supplements, oils, etc are organic or of very high quality….it does make a difference! God bless you and your horse.

  3. Kathie Judy says:

    I have an 11 y/o TWH gelding who we have had since purchasing him from his breeder at the age of 2, so I know his entire history – he has been the picture of health until this past December when he came down with a severe case of laminitis and mild founder. Long story short, he had appeared to be almost back to normal (after many vet visits from different vets, special shoeing, supplements, feed change, soaking hay, etc., etc., etc.), and then on Wednesday morning I came out and he could barely walk. Put his front feet in a bucket of ice, gave 10 CC Banamine IM, and have upped the dosage on the various supplements he has been receiving. My farrier (an experienced bare foot trimmer) came by today and examined him, and said that although his one foot is a tad warm, there were no bounding pulses, and he actually was not moving really badly (hopefully the ice & Banamine as soon as I noticed it helped circumvent a full-blown episode. I’ve made him up a dry lot, am soaking all his hay, and have an acupressure/massage therapist coming, but I would like to know what were the amounts of the essential oils that you gave him, and since I have no experience in them, did you give them orally, rub them on, in combination with each other, how often, etc. He is on Cool Stance feed, which has the lowest NSC of any feed on the market (<11%), which has helped quite a bit. I have ordered a grazing muzzle, and will attempt to reintroduce him to grazing for very short periods of time daily once I feel he has recovered sufficiently. Any tips you can give me would be most greatly appreciated.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kathie–hopefully Regina will respond here. I have heard of some concerns in feeding Cool Stance to IR or laminitic prone horses (because of the high fat content)–you might want to check into that. Just wanted to mention it.

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