Common Causes of Founder/Laminitis in Horses

Misty Kale

Spring will soon be in the air! Grass will be growing, flowers blooming and everything will be coming alive. We will get to enjoy longer days and more sunshine! What could be wrong with that right?horse_founder

Well if you have a horse prone to grass founder, this may present a serious problem. Laminitis or Founder, as it is commonly called, is inflammation of the laminae of the horse’s foot. The laminae are the delicate, accordion-like tissues that attach the inner surface of the hoof wall to the coffin bone (the bone in the foot). The sensitive laminae interlock with insensitive laminae lining the hoof, much like interlocking fingers to keep the coffin bone in place within the hoof.  Horses suffering from Laminitis or Founder experience a decrease in blood flow to the laminae, which in turn begin to die and separate. The final result is hoof wall separation, rotation of the coffin bone and extreme pain. In severe cases, the coffin bone will actually rotate through the sole of the horse’s hoof where it becomes infected and can ultimately end in the horse having to be euthanized.

Laminitis is triggered by a repeated concussion on hard ground (road founder), grain overload, retained placenta, hormonal imbalance (Cushing’s syndrome), certain drugs (corticosteroids), obesity and lush grass.

In the case of grain or grass founder, the longer days and more sunlight brings increased photosynthesis in grasses and plants which results in starch, sugar and fructan production. This accompanied with the cooler temperatures at night prevent the plants from using these sugars and they start to accumulate. The horse's small intestine doesn't digest fructans very well so it passes through the small intestines to the large intestines. When they reach the large intestine the organisms there ferment the new substrates rapidly which causes the production of lactic acid, bacteria and compounds called vasoactive amines as well as a drop in PH.  The bacteria produce and release toxins (endotoxins) that are carried by the bloodstream to the foot where they cause damage to the laminae and small blood vessels. 

Later in the year, when the day and night time temperatures are more consistent, most of the fructan produced by the plant during the day is used up each night. This new information not only helps us understand that cause of grass founder but also provides us with a number of strategies to reduce the intake of fructans by grazing horses. 

 

 

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Horseshoe Materials Throughout The Years

Misty Kale

The horseshoe goes back thousands of years but not in the way we know it now. Though some of the first horseshoes used by ancient Asian and then Roman riders were made of leather, the technology has changed and developed over centuries to include metal and now even plastic/composite horseshoe materials. century, iron shoes were generally used. With the most changes being seen in the last century, we now have access to a variety of materials meant for a variety of functions.

By 1000 A.D., the use of cast bronze horseshoes was common in Europe and, by the 14th century, iron shoes were generally used. With the most changes being seen in the last century, we now have access to a variety of materials meant for a variety of functions.

Steel vs. aluminum

Most horseshoes are made from steel or aluminum. The material is chosen depending on what function the shoe is going to perform as well as what job the horse will be performing. The material that is chosen will have a large impact on the horses’ performance, overall stability and hoof health. Steel is heavier and very sturdy, while aluminum shoes are lighter but tend to have to be replaced more often. Heavy horses that are driven or worked need a more hard-wearing shoe as do horses that do a lot of high impact work like jumping or trails and may benefit from a sturdier shoe. Horses that spend most of their time on soft footing won’t need to worry as much about having a sturdy shoe and may benefit from a softer aluminum shoe. There are manufacturers that make a rubber-coated steel shoe, which has the benefit of more grip and cushioning for the horse. The structure of the hoof will also play a big part in what kind of shoe the horse can wear. Thin-walled hooves can be softer and may require a different shoe than that of a thicker walled hoof that is naturally harder. Steel shoes will wear down less quickly and you will get longer use out of them where aluminum shoes are softer, wear down quicker and will need to be replaced sooner.

Plastic/composite horseshoes

Plastic or composite horseshoes have been on the market for 20 years or more and are made from a number of composites that are designed to replicate the hardness of a healthy horses’ natural hoof. Some plastic shoes have a steel or aluminum core and some are composite materials only. They can reduce concussion and improve traction.  composite horseshoes with no steel or aluminum core offer significantly more shock absorption for those horses on street surfaces such as the carriage or police horses. They are lightweight and flex with the horses’ foot, come in a variety of sizes to support the hoof structure and can be trimmed by your Farrier for a custom fit. They can be glued or nailed on so they are beneficial to horses with many different hoof structures and also different hoof problems. Composite shoes are durable, lighter weight and can aid in reducing discomfort from a variety of chronic conditions such as ringbone, laminitis and navicular disease. Thermal imaging studies also confirmed improved overall circulation.

There are a lot of options out there and knowing what is right for your horse, and their feet can make all the difference in their performance and overall hoof health.

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Basic Hoof Care and Maintenance for the Pre Horse Owner or New Horse Owner

Basic Hoof Care and Maintenance for the Pre Horse Owner or New Horse Owner

Leslie Batistich
Why is hoof care so important you ask? A simple way to look at it is, your horses four hooves are his/her foundation upon which their body is supported. If you have ever heard the favorite saying “no hoof, no horse," this is truer than you think. If you have a hoof problem, it is likely you have a big problem.  

When I am shopping for a horse, I have been known to have my Farrier look at the horse’s hoof health, along with a Veterinary pre-purchase. I feel that horse's feet are that important that it does not hurt to have an extra set of eyes in the area of the hoof. Furthermore, your Farrier is going to be working on these feet every six to eight weeks, and he or she will be the one keeping your horse balanced and sound.  

If you are new horse owner and do not yet have a farrier or hoof trimmer, ask your vet, trainer or long-time horse owner friend for farrier/hoof trimmer recommendations. They can help point you in the right direction of a Farrier/Hoof Trimmer that is qualified to keep your horse in good sound condition. Another option is to look at the American Farriers Association site for certified Farriers. In the United States, Farriers typically go through a brief schooling period so you really want to look for someone who has been in the business and has invested the time to further their education. Farrier schools in the US are only a few months long vs. 3-5 years of schooling in Germany. 

Europe also has stronger regulations than in the United States, so you want to find a person who is committed and who has attended the primary schooling, certification and subsequently has followed with an apprenticeship program. I have had wonderful Farriers throughout my equestrian career. However, I have also seen a lot of Farriers/Hoof Trimmers come and go.  

In conclusion, it is very important that you don't skimp on this essential horse care element.  There have been many progressions in the hoof care arena. From traditional horseshoes to barefoot. There are a lot of options out there like composite plastic horseshoes (sports shoes for your horse), hoof boots, glue on shoes, injection hoof molds and velcro shoes to name a few. It is worth the time and the money to find a quality professional to know the best route and products to keep your horses going sound, comfortable and to the best of their abilities. A sound horse is a happy horse, and a happy horse makes a happy horse owner.  

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How To Measure Your Horses Hooves - Finding the Proper Plastic Horseshoe Size

How To Measure Your Horses Hooves - Finding the Proper Plastic Horseshoe Size

Leslie Batistich

A common question we get is: How do I find the proper horseshoes size? 

A lot of times the horse owner is ordering the shoes so that the shoes are available and ready for application at time of their scheduled farrier appointment.

is made from a high-tech composite material.  Since this material cannot be heated and shaped, as a steel shoe, these shoes come in a wide web pattern so you are able to trim the excess shoe off to customize to your horse's hoof. 

Tips:

When measuring, take into consideration when your horse was last trimmed or shod. If in doubt, go up a shoe size. Always measure to a bulb, not strait back.  This will ensure that you have enough shoes to support the horse. 

The video below shows you a simple way to measure your horse's hooves and find the proper size. 

 

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HOOF-it Plastic Natural Flex Horseshoe - Helps a Dressage Horse

Leslie Batistich

My dressage horse has two different front feet. Needless to say, he’s tricky to shoe. He has to be shod regularly at 5 weeks to prevent his knee height from becoming uneven. The challenge is to prevent his heels from contracting in the more upright hoof.

I decided to have my farrier try HOOF-it Natural Flex  alternative horseshoes on his front feet. He’s been in them now for two shoeings. Since the composite material of the alternative horse shoes is not as hard as steel or aluminum and the shoe has a frog plate, his hoof growth is more even on each foot.

What a great invention! There are lots of horses out there that don’t do well standing and working on steel or aluminum shoes. I hope to compete him again this year at 4th Level and PSG.

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HOOF-it Helps Peggy's Foundered Horse

Leslie Batistich
About one and a half years ago I was showing in northern California when I realized my yearling mare was off on her front left foot. When I brought her home I called my Vet. He took x-rays and when the results came back, he told me she had foundered and had ten degrees of rotation in both front feet. I was extremely upset, because I was so careful with her feeding and training program. I called my horseshoer and told him what had happened and he came over right away. He immediately put on these plastic shoes with a liquid substance poured onto the sole of the feet called Hoof-It to create a pad. As soon has he finished she was walking a better. After a three month period I called my Vet to have another x-ray taken. He called me and told me that her foot was getting better. He also said to keep using the Hoof-It product because it was healing the foot better and faster than he had ever seen. Well it has been over a year now and she is walking and running normally during her turn out time. I asked my shoer if and when I could start working with her and if he thought I might be able to show her again. He gave me the go ahead about 3 weeks ago. I started working with her slowly. To make a long story short, I went to the 60th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show last week and I ended up Circuit Champion and Reserve Champion In my Division. This truly is a dream come true as I did not know if I was ever going to be able to show my mare again. I know for a fact that it was the Hoof-It Product that enabled my mares hoof to heal and grow so she could walk normal again. Thank You HOOF-it your products saved my Mares Life!!!!!!!!
Peggy Sibley,  Campo, California

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Letter from a BWFA Journeyman Farerier

Leslie Batistich

I am a full-time farrier in Maryland and shoe all types of horses doing anything from dressage to steeple-chasing. I have used the HOOF-it  shoes for six months now and am extremely pleased (as are the horses!). They (so far) stay on better (they actually mold to the hoof over time) and longer than any other shoe I have ever used and seem to offer more comfort to most horses than any other shoe. I have the most success when I fill the shoe cavity in with dental impression material and anti-bacterial granules from Eponashoe. With thin-soled horses, the interior of the shoe can “pinch” the sole without the “putty” protecting it. Also, using e-head nails seems to be best. I would love to see a more round (as opposed to oval) design included in your HOOF-it standard product line (ie. a front and a hind pattern instead of a compromise).

Thank you very much for your time!

Jonathan Fell, BWFA Journeyman Farrier

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Evolution of the Horses Hoof

Evolution of the Horses Hoof

Leslie Batistich

Today’s horse has existed for roughly one million years. Today’s horse is a one-toed animal; however, this was not always the case. Some fifty million years ago, EOHIPPUS, ran on feet with toes. Its front feet had four hooved toes, its hind feet had three, and its weight was carried on a central pad. Several million years later, its descendant, MESOHIPPUS, had grown twice the size. All four feet had three toes, the central toe being prominent.

Another ten million years passed and the horse became MERYCHIPPUS. The MERYCHIPPUS fed on grass rather than leaves and carried its weight on a single hoof, although two side toes were present.

PLIOHIPPUS, which lived ten million years ago, was the first single-toed horse. It roamed the plains and was able to graze freely and run swiftly from its predators. Traces of the side toes were present on either side of the cannon bone.

EQUUS CABALLIS, today’s horse, is a one-toed animal. The single toe has become a part of the horse’s anatomy.

The hoof wall grows down from the coronary band. It is thick enough to have nails driven into it without splitting, and can be trimmed just like human fingernails.

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Champion Arabian Horse Trainer uses HOOF-it Products

Champion Arabian Horse Trainer uses HOOF-it Products

Leslie Batistich

Three-time U. S. National Champion Arabian horse trainer, Cari Thompson, uses HOOF-it products to keep her horses sound and on top of their game.

Hello out there,

My name is Cari Thompson of Cari Thompson Training in Gardnerville, Nevada.

I have been using the HOOF-it acrylic product and the HOOF-it composite horseshoes on my Arabian show horses during training for about 5 years now. The composite horseshoes help relieve sore hooves as well as supporting bad hoof walls and contracted heels. They are also great to help support suspensory ligament damage and lay-ups and can even be used with toe weights to achieve better motion.

Because of the HOOF-it products, I have been able to keep my show horses going well when they perform in the show ring. In fact, I am happy to say that I was fortunate enough to take 2 of the Arabian show horses that have been in training in my barn to Championship wins in both the Open Arabian Hunter Pleasure and the Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse classes at the U. S. Arabian National Horse Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October of 2005. That was quite a thrill!

I want to personally thank HOOF-it Technologies for the wonderful products they provide and for all the help they have given me and my horses. We just couldn’t do it without you!

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Treating Hoof Thrush

Leslie Batistich

This spring as you go about your routine of picking out your horse’s hooves, you may discover an unusual thick black discharge and foul smell around the frog. These are the early signs of the hoof disease thrush. Thrush is an infection of the frog and of the surrounding tissue of the hoof. The bacteria associated with thrush infect the collateral and central sulci (creases) of the frog. The bacteria thrive on lack of oxygen, breaking down the tissue of the hoof. This breakdown results in the foul odor and black discharge. If thrush is left untreated it can turn into a very painful problem in the heel area of your horse.A wet environment that is made up of urine and acidity from manure is a breeding ground for the anaerobic bacterium that are attracted to any dead tissue that is on your horse’s frog. Also, people who have horses in a climate similar to the Pacific North West should keep a close lookout for this disease due to the constant dampness. The good news is that thrush is anaerobic, which means that this bacteria cannot live in the presence of air. The best way to avoid it in the first place is to keep your horse’s feet dry and clean so air can reach the tissue of the frog. A daily hoof picking does wonders. If not caught in the early stages the bacteria will form deep seated pockets and literally drill into the frog eating away the remaining healthy tissue.

If you do happen to notice a pungent odor and a black discharge from your horse’s frog, some treatment will be necessary. Mild cases of thrush can be treated by removing dead tissue by trimming, scrapping, and vigorous scrubbing (debriding), of the frog and hoof wall. Moderate cases will need to be scrubbed with an antiseptic and treated daily with a topical spray after trimming and debridement. Severe cases of thrush will need repeated intense debridement followed by sterile bandaging and a quality topical thrush treatment. Your veterinarian may also recommend a tetanus shot.

With a careful eye, good hygiene, and quick treatment if needed, you will be able to prevent thrush from delaying you and your equine partner’s long past due spring ride.

If you have had any experience with thrush please post your comments here and share your knowledge with your fellow horse owners.

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