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Meet Dylan... (Laminitis)

Dylan at homeAt the beginning of June 2004 Dylan, a 13hh grey gelding pony, owned by Claire Astre came in from the field lame – he had laminitis. At the time he was grossly overweight and not in any work.   The combination of this and grazing the spring grass contributed to him getting one of the most preventable and painful conditions of the equine foot, grass associated laminitis.   The contributing factors are typical and I see dozens of cases every year, overweight horses on high sugar, new growth grass, with the extremely common misunderstanding that field turnout is equivalent to exercise – it is not.


Dylan was immediately put on strict box rest with restricted hay and daily anti inflammatory drugs but after just 5 days he had deteriorated and needed his front feet x-raying and corrective heart bar shoes fitted to support the inflamed tissue in his feet.   The shoes are refitted every 4-5 weeks and Dylan was maintained on box rest.   Approximately 2 months later Dylan deteriorated again and on x-ray his pedal bones had rotated and sunk even further so that there was about 3-4mm of sole before his pedal bones came through and were exposed.   At this point his prognosis was grave.   We decided to remove some of the front of his hooves, dorsal wall resection, to try to relieve some of the pressure inside the feet caused by gas that builds up as the bone and hoof separate.   Now Dylan was having heart bar shoes fitting regularly and daily bandaging of the hoof resection sites.


Towards the end of 2004 one hoof was obviously more painful than the other and we decided that he would benefit from the shoe on the more painful foot being filled with a liquid plastic material for even more support.   The material hardens as it is exposed to the air and mixed with a hardener and simply acts an extension of the horse or pony’s sole, making it thicker and therefore more supportive.


Dylan has just started small walks at the end of February 2005 with normal shoes refitted after nearly 9 months of box rest.   He is still on a reduced dose of anti inflammatory drugs for a condition which, in his case, could have been prevented.   He has lost weight and will go back into work soon thanks to the vigilant owner in Claire, who was always aware of small changes in his condition which was important, and patient, professional shoeing by Peter Lamb.


Horses grazing jpegThere are many causes of laminitis, some difficult to predict and prevent, and some incredibly easy to prevent.   With the amount of information available to owners through magazines, informed feed merchants, qualified farriers and veterinary surgeons, there is no excuse for someone who turns an overweight, or even healthy weight, horse or pony in a lush pasture 24 hours a day throughout the summer without regular exercise.

Remember field turnout is not exercise!



A pdf leaflet on Equine Laminitis is enclosed.   Further information can be downloaded from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) website.   www.beva.org.uk


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