With the current weather meaning that the grass is growing in enormous proportions it means that horse owners must be especially vigilant in watching for signs of laminitis. Of course, as with most things, prevention is better than cure and there are a number of things that can be done to minimise the risk of laminitis:
Condition Scoring – as most horse owners will not have access to a weighbridge, condition scoring is an easy way to keep an eye on your horse or ponies condition. The BHS provide a useful information leaflet but as a guideline the ideal score is 3; with a covering of fat but you should still be able to feel ribs and pelvis easily however there should be no crest present.
Limit Grazing – either through the use of a grazing muzzle or by strip grazing.
Soaking hay – feed hay soaked for 12 hours to ensure gut activity is maintained without the excess sugars.
Exercise – upping exercise is the key to reducing the risk of laminitis however care must be taken with unfit horses to build up the work slowly. Hard and uneven ground must also be avoided to reduce the risk of trauma induced laminitis.
If you suspect your horse has laminitis first port of call should be the vet, in the mean time make sure you take them off the grazing onto a nice deep bed to support the feet and feed well soaked hay until the vet has arrived and the course of action has been decided.