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Laminitis: Get Them Off The Grass.

Laminitis help

Did you know New Zealand is the Equine Laminitis Capital of the World? 

Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way!

It was nearly twenty years ago when I rescued my first laminitic horse. I remember how much of a baptism of fire this was, as I had had very little to do with laminitis until then.


The poor horse in question was very sore on his hooves and could hardly take a step, bless him. I oversaw him as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other every few minutes to relieve the pain and establish comfort. He also suffered from a hoof abscess, and there was heat in the hoof with a throbbing at the back of the heel like a pulse. We did all we could to keep him comfortable with poultices and then ice baths to try to reduce the inner swelling of the laminae, which did seem to help a bit. 


I remember it vividly, as it certainly wasn't very lovely watching this poor fella suffering like that, and what was even more perplexing was how grass could have caused it. As surely horses are meant to eat grass, aren't they?

So, off I went to the books and the veterinary universities to find out all I could about this condition. After researching it in detail, all to try to help this poor horse that I had rescued and armed with advice from my Vet to shoe him, I was very confused. However, I prepared my open barn with deep shavings and gave the horse in question a little taped-off area at the front of it that was sparsely covered in grass, fed hay and painkillers of Bute etc....and waited for the recovery.

Which, despite my best efforts did not happen.


This was most upsetting and confusing for me on why the horse wasn't getting any better. Still, as I had also just taken the plunge into going barefoot for the first time too, I decided to consult my trimmer and asked her, "I'm not sure why he isn't getting better."


After my trimmer assessed what I thought was a sparse balding paddock that this horse was being kept in, she told me rather brutally, "What part of getting him off the grass is it that you don't understand'!


This feels so weird to read this now, as I remember that I was flawed with shock, and dismay, as well as upset by her harsh statement, as I felt it was unfair.


After all, I had tried so hard to do so much for this horse and protested that my Vet had said that this approach was fine and that there was so little grass in the surely he would be ok????

How to help horses recover from laminitis

It's been almost twenty years since I received this brutally honest advice from a trimmer about rehabilitating laminitic horses. Now, I work with rescue horses and assist people in caring for their domestic horses. After studying equine behavior and nutrition, I understand the wisdom in that trimmer's advice. 


My work involves educating owners about laminitis through our Rescue Centre at Natural Horse NZ. We aim to provide owners with knowledge, support, and real facts on how to prevent their horses from developing this condition. If a horse does have laminitis, we help owners learn how to facilitate the fastest and least painful recovery possible. 


Unfortunately, the process is complicated by myths and untruths surrounding the disease. People frequently disagree on the best course of action, which can hinder a horse's recovery.

clinical signs pain of laminitis
mild moderate severe laminitis

Some vets lack knowledge about managing laminitis, leading to relapses for horses. Veterinary schools don't teach enough about equine nutrition and pasture-induced laminitis. Outdated methods, like loading horses with Bute and insisting on metal shoes, are expensive and unnecessary. We recommend a natural approach using hoof boots with inner pads, non-invasive trimming, and proper diet and paddock management to prevent and reverse the condition.

inside the horses hoof for laminitis

Laminitis from pasture is a serious issue for horses, caused by poor paddock management and a lack of awareness about grass effects. In New Zealand, many horses die from this condition each year. Early detection and proper management can prevent severe complications. All horse breeds and sizes are at risk, especially during Spring and Autumn when grass growth is high. A low-sugar diet can help prevent laminitis.

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