How to Prevent Laminitis in Horses

Two Methods:Manage Horses FeedTake Care of your Horse's Hooves

Horse laminitis occurs when the membranes, or laminae, which connect the equine's foot bones to the wall of the hoof become swollen and inflamed. Laminitis usually occurs on the front feet and is extremely painful to the horse. Left untreated, the membranes may break off completely, which may permanently damage the hoof and foot bones. The main cause of horse laminitis is over feeding. You may prevent laminitis by managing your horses' food intake and taking good care of their feet.

Method 1
Manage Horses Feed

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    Store grain and feed securely so that horses can't get to it. Horses like to eat, and if they find a bag of oats left unattended, they will consume the entire bag, which could cause horse laminitis.
    • Use plastic storage bins with locking tops. This will keep horses, mice and other rodents out of the grain.
    • Keep the grain containers behind a closed door, such as in a tack room or storage shed. Preventing laminitis includes keeping horses safe from themselves.
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    Rotate pasture and paddock areas.
    • Green pasture grass contains high levels of starch and sugar, which may trigger horse laminitis. The starch and sugar content is highest in the spring and during the day.
    • In the spring, when lush grass starts growing tall, prevent equine laminitis by turning horses out for only a couple of hours, and gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the lush grass until they have become accustomed to the high starch and sugar diet.
    • Horses that have had issues with laminitis in the past are more likely to succumb to laminitis again, and should never be left to eat freely in a lush pasture.
    • Try turning your horses out at night when the starch and sugar content in the grass isn't as high. Preventing laminitis may mean changing horses' pasture schedules to protect them from consuming too much starch and sugar.
    • Feed a probiotic and prebiotic: Feed a balancer that contains both a prebiotic and a probiotic. This is a simple, yet very effective way of maintaining good gut health and aiding the digestion of fibre.
    • Avoid fructans: the level of fructan in grass can vary with the changing seasons. The spring and autumn growing seasons are when fructan is at its highest level. With our winters becoming milder and our summers becoming wetter, the growing season has become extended. Because of this, it is important to observe grass growth. Not only should you monitor the field that your horse is grazing, you should keep an eye on surrounding fields that are not grazed to get an idea of how fast the grass is growing and therefore how much your horse is eating.

Method 2
Take Care of your Horse's Hooves

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    Check your horse's hooves every day and clean them with a hoof pick. Preventing laminitis means knowing your horse's feet, and recognizing lameness or a sore foot right away.
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    Have your farrier (horse shoer) trim your equine's feet every 6 to 8 weeks. This may prevent equine laminitis, keep the hooves from growing too long, and ensure your equine has well balanced feet.
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    Add hoof supplements, such as biotin, to your horse's diet if the hooves are brittle and dry.
    • Biotin supplements contain vitamin B, which helps hooves grow. Biotin is found naturally in alfalfa, barley and oats.
    • Biotin is also used to help animals that have horse laminitis.
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    Avoid riding on rocky terrain if your horse doesn't have shoes on. Preventing laminitis includes good riding practices. Rocks can bruise the horses hoof, which may leave them at risk for foot ailments, such as laminitis.
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    Consider having shoes put on at least the front feet of your horse to help protect the hooves when traveling along roads. Pavement has no rebound, like sand or dirt, and is hard on your horse's feet.


  • Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect laminitis. Treating horse laminitis right away will improve chances for a full recovery.
  • Ride your horse every day. Overweight horses are more likely to get laminitis. Riding is great exercise and will keep your horse in shape, which may help prevent equine laminitis.

Article Info

Categories: Horse Health