Equine founder is essentially inflammation of the lamninae, which is a portion of tissue in a horse’s foot that will sit between the bones of the toe and the wall of the hoof. This tissue will be full of blood vessels that’s purpose is to feed the hoof. If this area becomes inflamed, it will need treatment.
If you are concerned that your horse has equine founder, then you will need to take them for a check-up to either rule it out or confirm a diagnosis. The earlier that this condition is identified, the better the chances of successful treatment before too much damage occurs.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the causes of equine founder, as well as explain how it can be treated. This will help you to be aware of the severity of this condition, and find out what you need to do if you think that your horse is suffering from it. You can find out everything that you need to know here.
What is Equine Founder?
With this condition, the blood circulation will be cut off to the toe portion of the hoof, but this can be resolved with quick treatment. If it were to go on for too long, then it could cause the tissue to die and lead to bone rotation. The bone may also separate from the hoof, which can allow bacteria to get in.
The fact that the blood flow of the hoof is being disrupted means that this condition can cause permanent horizontal rings to grow on the wall of the hoof. As well as this, the bone of the toe can start to rotate, which can cause it to penetrate the sole of the hoof. If this does happen, then unfortunately, the horse would need to be put down.
One of the biggest issues with equine founder is that if it has affected your horse once, then it increases your horse’s chances of developing it again. This condition can quickly become chronic if it is not being closely monitored.
What Are the Signs of Equine Founder?
Equine laminitis is a condition that can be very painful for your horse. It will typically only affect the front feet, but it can also affect the back feet as well. It can make your horse reluctant to stand up or walk around, and they will likely show signs that they are in pain when doing so. When they are standing up, they might try to take their weight off of their front feet.
The way in which they will do this is by placing their back feet farther forward under their belly and extending their front feet forward to try and carry more of their weight on their back feet, instead of their front feet. If a horse has suffered from chronic founder, then they will have horizontal rings on the wall of the hoof.
What Causes Equine Laminitis?
Equine Laminitis can be caused by lots of different things, but the most common reason why this occurs is due to eating too much grain. Another common reason for this is ingesting too much green grass, or experiencing a sudden change when it comes to feeding. Some of the other things that can cause this condition include the horse being ridden too hard, repeated hard concussion, and your horse running on cement or race tracks too often.
Your horse is also more likely to experience this if they are overweight or out of condition. Something else that can cause your horse to develop this condition is giving them cold water when they are hot without allowing them time to cool down first. This condition can also be associated with uterine infections after foaling, pneumonia, and toxemia that is related to a drug overdose.
The one good thing about equine founder is that it is really easy to prevent it when you know exactly what to avoid. As well as this, you can get a good outcome if the condition is treated early on and with the right care.
How to Prevent Equine Laminitis
It is possible to limit your horse’s chances of developing equine founder greatly by following some simple steps. This will make it much less likely for your horse to be affected by this condition.
Avoiding Grain Overload
One of the things that you can do is avoid giving your horse too much grain by slowly introducing grain to them and making sure that you never feed them more than 1.5% of their body weight in grain. Grain overload is something that can be very dangerous, as it can quickly cause the bone in the foot of the horse to rotate.
So, if you think that your horse might have eaten too much grain, you should take them to see a vet straight away. If the grain is given time to be digested, then it will be too late, as the damage to their feet will have already been done.
Avoiding Too Much Green Grass
You should also slowly introduce your horse to green grass. You can start them off with only grazing on green grass for between 10 and 15 minutes per day for a couple of days. Once you have done this, you can start to increase the amount by 15 minutes every couple of days until they are able to graze for around 2 hours without experiencing any issues.
It is really important to watch out for horses that are solely fed on pasture, and if you notice them getting grass fat, developing a crest neck, or generally being out of condition, then you should take them off of this pasture. These are all conditions that can make it more likely for laminitis to occur in horses.
Something that you might not have known is that equine founder is even more likely to affect ponies, and some horses can get to the point where they are unable to eat green grass or pasture again in the future, so it is really important to be vigilant. Some other things that you can do to reduce your horse’s chances of getting equine founder are:
- Always make feed changes slow and gradual
- Avoid running on cement
- Monitor horses on green grass pasture
- Avoid feeding them too much grain
- Treat any infections quickly and efficiently
- Avoid riding your horse too hard
- Make sure that your horse has cooled down before you give them water
- Prevent pneumonia with vaccines and proper shelter
- Try to keep your horse at a healthy weight
If you make sure to do all of the things on this list, then your horse will be much less likely to develop equine founder. This is really important for your horse’s general health and to ensure that they do not develop any medical conditions.
How is Equine Founder Treated in Horses?
If your horse has suffered a grain overload, and they have been taken to a vet, it is likely that they will be given large amounts of mineral oil through a stomach tube. This will work to prevent founder, but also colic. They will also be given antihistamines, which will work to avoid toxicity.
Horses that are overweight and suffering from this condition will be put on a weight loss diet. If the condition has developed due to eating excess grass, then the animal will likely be stopped from accessing green grass pasture.
Something that may also be able to help is corrective shoeing, which can be done by a skilled farrier. By adjusting the angle of the hoof, they can offer the horse some pain relief and promote blood circulation of the affected tissue at the same time. This is something that is essential for tissue restoration, and it will give the bones in the foot the best chances of realigning properly.
It is also possible that the farrier will use a combination of leather pads and specialized shoe horses. Acrylic compounds may also be used to build up parts of the hoof and protect the sole of the foot. If the condition has become very severe, then it is possible that the horse will need to be put down. However, if it is treated quickly and managed correctly, then it is still possible for the horse to be able to live a long and healthy life.