Saturday, October 3, 2009

Our progress in coping with laminitis - any thoughts to share?

Our "new" beautiful and kindly horse of 16 years age arrived at the end of June this year. We knew she was coming with a history of lameness due to chronic laminitis. Laminae bind the hoof wall to the third phalanx, or foot bone. During laminitis, the laminae become inflammed and swell. As the condition worsens, foundering involves the laminae tearing and the foot bone rotating to point downward, rather than being held in a position paralleling the hoof wall. The tearing and rotation can be extremely painful; and the rotated foot bone can eventually go through the sole.
Our new horse's vet records showed that previous laminitis events were brought on by a high fever in 2004 (in which her hoof walls were damaged) and by foaling in 2007 (which resulted in significant foot bone rotation). Vet records also showed a lameness event occured a month before her coming at our farm, cause unknown.
For the first two months in her new home, efforts focused on changing the shoeing to reversed shoes (bar shoes), lowered heels, reduced toes, and removed pads. Isoxaprine, a vasodilator, was given with a light dose of Earth Lodge Hoof Support herbals and biotin.
Progress in the quality of the her hooves and soles was good, but inadequate in dealing with the internal foundering that was occuring. Her pain levels increased. The horse was lying down more than normal, standing stiffly (rather than comfortably grazing) more often, and walking with obvious painfull tenderness.

Clearly a more agressive program was needed.
Radiographs were taken 5 weeks ago. They showed both front feet had rotation that was somewhat worse than the 2007 levels and definitely quite serious. The front feet were hot to touch.
After just a month of special care, radiographs showed one front foot had reduced rotation, while the other front foot was unchanged. Both feet had significant improvement of the sole's callusing, and hoof growth improved. The horse's walking significantly improved, with no lying down to relieve foot pain. The fee have cooled down to normal.
Appetite and bowel movements remained good throughout the therapy.

Our activities:
Meds: isoproxine for vaso dilation...24 per day of 20 mg each; aspirin...8 per day of 325 mg each; pepcid (famotidine) ...4 per day of 10 mg each; divided into a morning and evening dosage dissolved in water, each dose blended with 3 cups of applesauce poured over 1/2 scoope of grain. Supplements: CoQ10...4 tablets of 100 mg each; 3 tablespoons of flax seed oil; 2 scoops of biotin.
Herbals: prickly ash, devils claw, thyme, willow bark, and rosehips added to the Earth Lodge Hoof Support formula that includes calendula, cleavers, kelp, chamomile, hawthorn, nettles, celery seed, meadowsweet, yarrow, cleavers and milk thistle seed....2 handfuls, divided between the morning and evening grain.
Farrier: Removed shoes. Trimmed the hoof wall even with the sole, lowered the heel, cut back the toe, removed any side flaps, kept the horse on soft footing to absorb the load through out the sole and hoof wall.
Setting: Initially she spent a few days in the stall with deep shavings. But, as the aspirin reduced her pain, separation from her herd pals became intolerable and she tried frantically to exit the stall. Rather than put her back into pain in order to keep her in the stall, we let her spend most of each day moving freely around the loamy soil pasture. The ground near the gate and water trough was wetted daily to create mud that the horse could stand in to cool the feet and absorb the loading, while dry ground was present so that the horse could move back and forth between the two settings.

Submitted by Sandra Cointreau.....Comments welcome.

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