What Can We Do?

The key to laminitis prevention is to reduce insulin resistance, and feed appropriately. This can and should be achieved through manipulation of the diet and exercise regime.

  1. Feed fibre not starch – the key to equine health is fibre. Fibre provides safe calories, promotes a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, encouraging the good bacteria and starving the bad, improves dental health, reduces the risk of ulceration, reduces the risk of colic, and improves insulin sensitivity. Even top competition horses can survive on forage alone, and where additional energy is required it can be provided whilst still restricting starch and sugar intake.
  2. Start preparing in the winter – in the wild horses lose weight over winter, allowing them to make the most of plentiful food in the spring. Modern management practices mean our horses remain fat all year round. It impossible to diet a horse on spring grass; get them ready in the winter for a stress free spring.
  3. Get their weight right – Obesity is a huge issue for equine health. Ask your vet or nutritionist about body condition scoring, and getting your horse to a healthy weight. Where necessary provide a calorie controlled high fibre (of course) diet, with vitamin and mineral supplementation.
  4. Use a muzzle – when the grass starts to come through don’t be afraid to use a grazing muzzle to limit intake but allow your horse to spend time in the field.
  5. Be careful with the laminitis paddock – short grass can still contain high levels of fructans meaning it isn’t always as safe as it looks.
  6. Turn out during the night; bring in during the day – the grass is highest in sugar during the middle of the day, avoid grazing at this time to reduce risk.
  7. Exercise plenty – exercise is not only helpful for weight management, it has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Exercising on soft ground is advisable as concussion on hard ground can damage the laminae.
  8. Make friends with your farrier – regular foot trimming and correct balance help to keep the laminae healthy. Remedial shoes can help to support the frog and relieve stress on the laminae.
  9. Ask your vet for advice – if your horse is high risk they can show you how to check the digital pulses, an easy way to spot laminitis early. They may also suggest blood tests to check for Cushing’s, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.


Read our Laminitis FAQ's from Liam Gamble, Equine Veterinary Surgeon. 

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