More often than not several factors are involved when a horse or pony develops laminitis. Some are nutritional, some are not. There are some we can do nothing about, for example a pony may be what is termed ‘insulin-resistant’ because of his breeding; all we need to know is that this makes him more susceptible to laminitis, but there is nothing we can do about his genetics. However, by controlling the factors that we can do something about, for example feed and management, we can often prevent the ‘laminitis threshold’ being reached. This threshold is reached when so many internal hoof laminae slide apart that the attachment of the pedal bone to the internal hoof wall loosens and it rotates downwards and points towards the sole, creating damage, inflammation and pain within the hoof, in other words, laminitis.
Taking the following action will help to reduce the risk of laminitis:
1.Find the most suitable grazing you can. Unproductive grassland such as hill land is ideal, where ponies have to exercise a great deal to eat a moderate amount of average quality grass. Old meadow or parkland grazing is the next best.
2.Never make rapid changes in the diet e.g. do not suddenly turn out onto good pasture.
3.Avoid both fertilised and frozen pasture but do not be a slave to predicted fructan levels as these vary enormously according to a multitude of factors.
4.If necessary to control his weight, increase the amount of exercise you do with your pony in the spring to burn off more calories.
5.When stabled, base feeding programmes on ample forage (e.g. late cut hay or possibly high-fibre haylage) as limiting fibre intake upsets the hindgut microbial balance.
6.If extra calories are needed to obtain correct condition maximise the use of high-fibre, low sugar/starch feeds e.g. alfalfa in various forms or blends, shredded beet pulp (discard the juice or use unmollassed), and cereal-grain-free fibre or cool cubes.
7.Avoid feeds high in sugar e.g. molassed coarse mixes and straw chops.
8.Avoid feeds high in starch e.g. cereals or cereal-based compound feeds.
9.Monitor the digital pulse daily to give you an early indication of imminent lameness. Noting a loosening in droppings may also be helpful.
10.Avoid unnecessary trauma to feet e.g. avoid stony, uneven ground and minimise trotting on roads. Do not jump on hard ground.
11.Because the diet may be very limited it should be supplemented with a vitamin and mineral supply for general health; nutrients to promote good hoof growth with optimal bonding between the laminae and the hoof wall; yeast products to help maintain a healthy hindgut environment and anti-oxidants to combat excess free-radical production. These can all be found included in one very effective, palatable, pelleted product.
Article Source: TopSpec Nutrition
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