Laminitis is one of many words horse owners dread. In April 2019 that horse owner was me. Bella came down with laminitis and it was heartbreaking. She was retired by this point and living out 24/7 in a sizeable paddock. In came the starvation paddock, vets visits, and lots of advice and changes to her management (including the much-hated grazing muzzle)
Sadly, Bella’s laminitis didn’t go away and being a retired mare I made the incredibly difficult decision to have her put to sleep and out of pain. I’m writing this blog today to share what I have learnt and some key things that I do now, in the hope that it can help others identify the signs early on.
Belle (my new mare) is out in the same paddock. She, however, is in ridden work 6 days a week. I am constantly on the lookout for any signs of laminitis:
- cresty deposits on the neck
- fat pads behind the shoulder
- a strong digital pulse
Spillers horse feeds have been absolutely wonderful in ensuring that Belle is on the correct diet for the type of horse she is ( a good-doer cob). Back in April this year, I had a FREE (yep, I’m not lying) video consultation with the lovely Gina at Spillers. I showed her Belle from all angles and she assessed her body condition for me. She came out with a body condition score of 5, which is a really good place to be. This score is what we have been trying to maintain over the past 3 months. If you want to know more about the body condition score have a Google search (other internet providers also available)
The feed recommendation that came out of our call was to put Belle on a balancer, which ensures she gets a good level of vitamins, minerals and quality proteins and this one in particular also encourages weight loss. I now have Belle on the ‘Lite and Lean’ balancer, but there are various other types of balancer to suit your horse or ponies needs.
Now, I’m aware the above is all a bit ‘info’ heavy, which I know isn’t for everyone. So to keep it simple, the advice that I now go by is:
- Keep a close eye on your horse’s weight
- Watch out for those key laminitis signs
- Make sure you’re feeding them a suitable diet
- Ensure that their exercise level is sufficient
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
What I have learnt is that there is SO much help and support available, and it is often free, so there is no stopping you from improving your knowledge and giving the best care to your beloved 4 legged friends!