Many horse owners have had to face the harsh difficulties and costs of trying to treat laminitis in their beloved horses and ponies (which I will refer to just a ‘horse’ for the rest of the article).
What is laminitis?
Laminitis is a complex illness. You can find many scientific explanations of laminitis online, but we’re going to talk more about how laminitis affects a horse, how it is treated and most importantly, methods of prevention.
Laminitis mostly affects the hoof, or specifically the soft tissue in the hoof known as the laminae. When a horse suffers from laminitis, the laminae becomes inflamed and painful which can cause lameness and distress in the affected horse.
Treatment of laminitis is difficult, time consuming and very costly. In severe cases of laminitis a horse may not survive. Because of the complications of treatment, it makes more sense to take a preventative approach to laminitis.
How can laminitis be prevented?
Before we can prevent laminitis, we need to get a basic understanding of what causes it. There are many causes of laminitis but the most common is the consumption of excess carbohydrates. Grains and pasture contain different sugars such as starch and fructan. These sugars are known as non-structural carbohydrates (NSC).
NSC’s are more present in grasses that are under stress. Many introduced grasses struggle to survive in Australia’s climate and due to that stress build up higher amounts of NSC’s than native Australian grasses.
Studies were done on 2 particular native grasses for their levels of NSC’s: Wallaby grass (Rytidosperma geniculatum) and Weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides). The recommended thresholds are to keep NSC’s below 10 g/100g of the fodder which these two grasses easily fall under having contents for Fructose of less than 0.2, Glucose of less than 0.2 and total sugars of less than 1.0 g/100g. Thus these grasses are very well suited to horse consumption with next to no risk of serious conditions such as laminitis.
Where can I get more information?
You can find loads of information on the technicalities of laminitis on our website, or you can download our 20 page e-book using the form above. The e-book is written by our agronomist Dr. Ian Chivers and reviewed / approved by Jane Myers, Prof. Chris Pollitt and Rebecca Scott and has more than enough information to get you up to speed on how laminitis works and how you may help to prevent it from happening to your horse.
As always, we hope you enjoyed our article.