Signs Your Equine Friend has Laminitis and What to do

Laminitis is a common condition in ponies, horses, or even donkeys. It affects the animal’s hooves, often the front ones. The condition is extremely painful, making it difficult to walk. 

It is essential to ensure your equine friend is protected from getting the condition. It’s also important that you recognise the signs if he gets affected. 

Here’s what you need to know. – 

What is Laminitis? 

The condition affects the tissues that bond the wall of the hoof to the pedal bone. These tissues are called the laminae. The laminae become inflamed, which is excruciatingly painful. 

Ponies, horses, or donkeys that tend towards being a bit overweight, or that react to rich grasses and feeds can be at risk of getting laminitis. For horses that may be prone to the condition adding E3 Live for Horses laminitis treatment supplements to their feed is a great option.

Laminitis Causes

The condition occurs in three main circumstances. – 

Weight or Load Bearing Issues

If a horse is overweight, the blood supply to the laminae can be compromised by continued weight-bearing. Laminitis commonly occurs in the supporting leg of a horse that cannot put weight on another limb due to injuries such as a fracture or joint infection.


It can occur when other conditions that cause inflammation are at play. This can be diarrhoea, come kinds of colic, if the horse has bad pneumonia, or in the case of retained placenta. The exact trigger is unclear, but research shows the presence of inflammation in the body affects the laminae.

Endocrine Diseases

If a horse has an underlying hormone condition such as Cushing’s disease or equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), he may develop laminitis. These hormone conditions result in the production of insulin in the body, which has shown to be associated with laminitis. 

How to Tell Your Horse Has Laminitis 

The most common symptom of laminitis is lameness in the front hooves. Due to the pain, the horse will often shift their weight onto the hind feet and will not want to walk. You may note: 

  • The horse is lamer on hard surfaces or on sharp turns
  • Pain reaction when hoof testers are applied to the hoof sole near the frog point
  • Greater digital pulses

Treating Laminitis

If you suspect your horse has laminitis it’s best to call your vet immediately. In the meantime, keep your horse in his stall to box rest him. Make sure the bedding is deep to keep him comfortable. 

Provide plenty of fresh water, and feed him poor quality hay. It’s best to soak the hay to remove carbohydrates. Your vet will also advise a customised treatment program for your horse’s individual needs. 

Is Laminitis Permanent or Fatal?

In short, laminitis can be cured, but once a horse has had it, he can be prone to getting it again. 

Laminitis is not usually fatal, but in severe cases, an owner and vet may make the decision to euthanase the horse if the prognosis is not good. Euthanasia is advised when the pedal bone rotates and goes into the sole of the horse’s hoof. This can be excruciatingly painful, making it almost impossible for him to walk. It is also a difficult condition to treat and the likelihood of a return to normal hoof structure is extremely low. In many cases it is irreversible. 

In Closing – Preventing Laminitis

If you think your horse is at risk of laminitis it is essential he is on the right diet. He should not get rich concentrates or lucerne. The horse should get low-grade hay. Be careful of feeding haylage instead of hay, as this can produce more insulin, which is associated with laminitis. 

A vet or equine nutritionist will be able to best advise you on how to feed your horse for his individual requirements.