Mystery Laminitis

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Q: I have a 8 y/o Trak gelding and about 6-7 wks ago he woke up one morning DEAD lame with a way too high temperature and a high heart rate and the works. It was noticeably more painful on his hind right at this point by the way. Some horse at the barn I board at had brought a virus back from Spruce Meadows but it was mainly high fever and coughing not this not walking crippled thing. The vet came out and at first thought it might be an abscess because he was so sensitive while being foot tested, that combined with the virus would give him what he had or something? so I soaked for 2 days and he was just getting worse, losing weight and sore and stiff behind!! So the vet came out again and realized in fact he was sore on both back hooves, so she thought he had tied up, but Selenium levels came back fine so maybe that wasn't it but then what else could it have been. Eventually he started to improve he could walk better and his heart rate and temp were where they were supposed to be. I even got on and rode him lightly a couple times....BBBUUUUTTTTT then a couple days ago WAM back to square one. He was worse this time, and it appeared that there was more pain in the left hind this time. It's like he has these muscle spasms or something.

Yesterday we took more blood work and finally blocked his hind feet and took x-rays. They showed that he has laminitis in his back feet. He doesn't get a lot of grain and I am very careful about how much grass he gets and I don't understand why this would happen to him, nothing fits? Any suggestions I'd love to hear from you.

Q: A very high temperature and a high heart rate, etc., as you described could quite possibly cause a horse to develop laminitis. Unfortunately even the best horse management can not entirely prevent horses from having medical problems including laminitis.

What you have to do now is to deal with the results of the laminitis, whatever its cause.

You said your vet ran some tests including taking radiographs of the hind feet. You said nothing about taking radiographs of the front feet. In all my years of shoeing, I have never seen a horse founder on the hind feet alone or first. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen; it just means that I have not seen it happen in 46 years of shoeing.

If you were my client, the presence of laminitis in the hind feet would have caused me to suggest radiographs of the front feet.

It has been an observation that a horse will develop laminitis in a particular rotation: left front, right front; left hind, right hind. The severity of laminitis usually follows the same rotational pattern, with the most severe in the left front.

In a nutshell, I would be thinking adjustable heart bar shoes on all 4 feet to prevent sinking and/or rotation of the coffin bone. I would also be thinking hoof wall resection to relieve pressure and allow the coffin bone to be manipulated back into its normal position within the hoof capsule.

There are other treatments for laminitis that have also been successful. Adjustable heart bar shoes and hoof wall resections, as you will have learned in my other Q&As, is what I have had work best for me.

Get back to me after you have radiographs of the front feet. I am curious about what you will have learned.

If the horse does have laminitis in any of his feet you need to attack it aggressively. Laminitis is not a wait and see situation.

Geronimo Bayard
The Village 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.