Foundering Pregnant Mare

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Q: I am writing you today to ask for your advice on what I should do for my 15 year old QH mare who foundered 2 years ago due to having cushings disease.  She is now 8 months in foal and is beginning to act sore again.  Her right foot sustained the worst rotation (4 degrees) and that is the foot she is feeling ouchy all over again.  There is some warmth in her coronary band, and the other 3 feet do not have this warmth.  She was recovering beautifully, only wearing regular aluminum shoes; however, as of last week she started acting ouchy again.  She is currently wearing snow ball pads as we live up in Northern NY.  She has had these pads on for 4 weeks now.   She is being given grain - 2 quarts twice a day - 14%.  Could it be the pads given her troubles or do you feel she could founder again?
We love her to pieces and do not want to see her suffer.  Do you have any suggestions?

A: It is very possible that the stress and extra weight of pregnancy is causing your mare to suffer from laminitis again. This is a common occurrence when foundered mares are bred.

On the other hand there are many other things that could be causing her soreness. An abscess would be a good guess, especially at this time of year. I wouldn’t rule out the snow ball pads causing the problem but would say it is not very likely.

I know I would not waste time wondering if it were my mare. I would start immediately by asking my farrier to check out her feet with hoof testers. If it is an abscess he just might find it.

Depending on the results my farrier got, I most likely then would have my vet give the mare an exam that would include radiographs of both front feet. Without x-rays any diagnosis concerning founder is an educated guess.

If the farrier couldn’t come out right away I would have the vet check out my mare first.

The main thing here is that I would not wait to see what happens. I would definitely NOT put the mare on Bute and wait to see how she responded. Laminitis and founder are potentially devastating and deadly problems which worsen quickly. Bute can mask the pain while the problem is growing. Bute does have its place in making the horse more comfortable once a diagnosis is made but it does not replace a thorough exam that includes x-rays, a firm diagnosis or aggressive treatment of the cause of the pain. Remember that too much Bute can kill a horse.

If it were decided that my mare was once again suffering from acute laminitis I would not wait to see if rotation occurs. I would have my farrier (or another more qualified farrier if mine wasn’t experienced with them) apply adjustable heart bar shoes. These shoes can literally be lifesavers for laminitic horses.

If your mare is indeed foundering again you should give serious thought to not breeding her after this foal is born.

You did not say if your mare is overly fat or if she is being ridden. Half a gallon of 14% grain twice a day would be more than many mature idle Quarter Horses would need, pregnant or not. As you no doubt know, more grain than a horse needs is frequently a contributing factor to the onset of laminitis and founder.

Please get back to me and let me know what you find and how your mare does.


Mrs. Mary Bayard
Owner/trainer Dodge Creek Stables
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright © protected.  © 1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard, © 2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.