Jenny Edwards is the owner and creator of All Natural Horse Care, a site devoted to informing horse owners about holistic horsekeeping. A former UK resident, Jenny now resides in Kingston Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with horses for most of her life and has studied natural hoof care extensively. She provides natural trimming services in her area and recently published an e-book entitled, Equine Laminitis.
What led you to write your e-book, Equine Laminitis?
It has been on my mind for a few years, but the final push came when I was called out in December, 2012 to see a horse that had come down with laminitis the previous March. The poor horse was still in severe pain and the owner was at the point of thinking she would have to have her put to sleep. The horse was under regular vet supervision, on high levels of bute, and had also had her hooves nerve blocked, yet after seven months she was still a pathetic sight –barely able to stand and in so much pain. The vet had done blood work and x-rays and she was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance and had 15° rotation in one hoof and 12° in the other. However, her feet were in terrible shape and whilst she had been taken off pasture, she was still getting too much sugar through feeding unrestricted hay.
I come across this scenario so often and it is very frustrating as there is no need for the horses to have to suffer this much just because of a lack of awareness. So I decided to write a basic but thorough, easy to read book that could help owners understand the issues surrounding laminitis. I strongly feel that by catching it in the early stages we can prevent so much suffering for both the horse and the owner. Laminitis is the second highest cause of death for horses and yet many of these deaths could so easily have been prevented.
With just two trims over an eight week period, a pair of hoof boots, and tightening up the diet, the horse mentioned above was able to be taken completely off bute and was much more comfortable moving around. After her third trim she started trotting of her own free will in her dry lot and the sparkle is back in her eye.
Yes, all horses can suffer from laminitis so it is always good to know what to look for. However IR and Cushings are on the rise and there is still a lack of education in the vet and farrier communities about recognizing the early signs of these two conditions. So my aim with this book is to help educate owners so they know what to look for and help them catch it in the early stages before damage occurs.
You talk a little bit about ‘sub-clinical’ laminitis in the book. Can you briefly explain what it is and an owner might know if their horse is suffering from sub-clinical laminitis?
Sub-clinical means that the laminitis is at a stage where it would not show up in the clinic ie on x-ray or through physical examination. Horses suffering from sub-clinical laminitis can show signs such as unusual laziness, unwillingness to take a canter lead, and/or tenderness on hard surfaces or rough ground.
What role does proper hoof care play in preventing laminitis?
Whilst it is incorrect to say that proper hoof care can prevent laminitis, I do believe that it plays a huge role in lessening the chances of rotation and/or sinking should the horse get laminitis. When the hoof is kept in optimal shape there is less mechanical strain on the lamina which encourages a stronger connection between the hoof wall and coffin bone which in turn makes it is less susceptible to insult.
What are the most important steps owners can take in preventing laminitis if their horse is at risk?
For horses which are at risk of metabolic issues it is vital to ensure that their intake of sugars is closely monitored, their hooves are regularly trimmed and they get regular exercise. Depending on how sensitive they are this can mean pulling them off pasture completely and feeding a low-sugar hay instead, or for the milder cases just using a grazing muzzle to limit the amount of grass they eat may be enough. The type of trim the horse gets is also very important as small adjustments can make the world of difference.
Where can your e-book be purchased?
The e-book can be purchased at www.equine-laminitis.com