Spring is well and truly upon us, and for the last 2 weeks the grass has started to shoot up. With spring arriving so early this year, lots of horse owners have already been caught out with horses and ponies coming down with laminitis.
Anyone with susceptible ponies and horses needs to start taking action now. Important steps to take are:
- Restricting grazing.
- Monitoring your equine's weight - use a weigh tape to take measurements.
- Monitoring digital pulses.
- Looking out for signs of footiness, particularly over stony ground that your horse is usually sound to cross.
- Looking for signs of lameness.
Remember that if you suspect your horse or pony has laminitis, you MUST take it off the grass. You will need to thoroughly soak hay (for at least 20 minutes, or even double soak it) to remove sugars and provide a soft surface for your horse to stand on in its stable. Wood shavings can be a good supportive surface, or you can put pads on your horse's feet to provide support. "HoofKind" feeds suitable for laminitics are available at feedstores. Seek guidance from your vet and/or farrier/barefoot practitioner who should be able to advise you on treatment and whether you should administer pain relief. Your equine will need to be kept off the grass until they have recovered, and then grazing will need to be carefully managed.
You might like to consider some of our Understanding Horses courses this year, being run in conjunction with a vet, that can help with preventative medicine and how to manage laminitics through feeding and nutrition.