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- CAUSES & PREVENTION
sugars and starches passing into the hind-gut of the horse.
- Percussion -
effect of riding/jumping on hard ground.
- a malfunction of the Pituitary gland, leading to excess
production of cortisol, which is a natural steroid. This is
a typical problem of the older horse.........click
for more information.
- Use of
- thought to make the gut wall more permeable to the toxins
which trigger laminitis.
- Obesity -
especially in ponies - causes imbalances in blood
sugar/fat/insulin ratios which can encourage laminitis.
- Infection - e.g.
- Anti-biotics can
upset the balance of the hind-gut microflora.
Laminitis is frequently caused by
undigested sugars and starches passing into the hind-gut of
the horse, where they are broken down by bacteria to lactic
acid. This increases the acidity in the hind-gut, suppressing
the fibre-digesting bacteria. Other species (Streptococcus,
Salmonella, E. Coli etc) proliferate; it is thought that they
produce toxins which pass into the bloodstream. When they
reach the hooves, these toxins trigger laminitis.
Fast-growing lush grass produces large amounts of sugars,
especially on bright sunny days. Unused sugars are stored as
Fructans, especially if the grass is stressed because of cold
or drought. Fructans are very sweet, and make grass extremely
palatable. They cannot be digested in the horse’s small
intestine and so pass into the hind-gut where they are readily
broken down to lactic acid. Susceptible horses should ideally
graze at night and only be allowed hay or straw during the
day. Grazing muzzles can also be helpful.
Horses have traditionally been fed on starchy products such
as oats, barley, maize, etc. Many modern proprietary feeds
also have a substantial starch and sugar content. Some horses,
and more especially ponies, are unable to cope, especially if
they have managed to raid the feed-store. The consequent
hind-gut overload may trigger LAMINITIS or COLIC.
By combining feeds with long fibre such as chopped straw or
alfalfa it is possible to slow the rate of passage of feed
through the small intestine and so ensure maximum digestion of
the soluble nutrients. Replacing starchy ingredients with high
quality vegetable oils and proteins, and good quality
digestible fibre greatly reduces the likelihood of excess
starch and sugar reaching the hind-gut. Probiotic supplements
or yeast (click for more information
and mail order) can boost the beneficial bacteria in the hind-gut,
and inhibit colonisation by harmful species.
pages to see which HORSEHEATH products
might be suitable.
This Pony Mare was in foal to one of Anne Smalley’s stallions. It developed severe laminitis
seven months before foaling, looked like a toast-rack and was written
off by its vet. Its owner was referred to John Chapman for advice, as a
result of which it reared a healthy colt foal and made a full recovery.
Veterinary Medicines regulations prohibit publication of the pony's