Spring Time Management #2

Be prepared for spring with a GutzBusta Hay Net!

Nikki here! Spring has sprung and it's laminitis season again. However, for some metabolically compromised horses and ponies, this season can be found to exist all year round!

Spring is a time of new growth, marking the start of greener pastures and warmer weather. Spring is also a time of misery for many horse and pony owners who battle with the dreaded condition of laminitis. Particularly if you have a laminitic, Insulin Resistant (IR) or Cushing’s horse or pony.

Most horses will be chomping at the bit to get into the lush green spring grass, but the high sugar and starch content can lead to laminitis and/or diarrhoea or even colic if grazing is not strictly managed during the transition from Winter into the Spring flush of feed.

This was my very reason for getting into the Slow Feed Business in the first place. As a trimmer, having to advise clients to keep their horses off grass due to their high probability of becoming sore with laminitis, or because they were already sore and needed help with rehabilitation. Nothing saddened me more than seeing horses fed a biscuit of hay and then half an hour later, nothing to eat again until the next meal time which could be 12 or even 24 hours.

Why is starvation NOT the answers

Stress causes the release of Cortisol and starvation is a form of stress for an animal that should be eating for 18 to 20 hours a day.  Therefore it makes NO sense to starve a laminitic horse as this cortisol release interferes with the hoof wall/coffin bone connection and will delay the improvement of a stronger hoof wall connection once correct management begins.

What is Low Grade / Subclinical Laminitis?

Many of us are familiar with the typical laminitis stance where the horse is leaning backward taking weight off its toes.  However, with low-grade or sub-clinical laminitis, it is much more insidious and can creep up on you without realising it.

Little bit by little bit the hoof wall/coffin bone connection becomes further and further separated.  If not checked, your horse can fall further down the cascade of laminitis. This is a condition not to be taken lightly as it is the second biggest killer of horses. Many people get away with sub-optimal management for a long time, even years... until the horse or pony crashes.

Watching your beloved Equine battle through this condition is heartbreaking.

Be prepared as we head into Spring and have your hay net stock levels up so if you have to lock up your equines to get them off the grass, you have an excellent management tool ready!

Signs of Sub-Clinical Laminitis?

There are MANY signs of subclinical laminitis.

  • Uncomfortable on hard ground, when previously ok.
  • Shortening stride on hard ground.
  • Horizontal Ridges (rings) on the exterior of the hoof wall.
  • Reluctance to pick up feet for cleaning.
  • Sore after a trim when usually ok.
  • Digital Pulse.
  • Shifting weight.
  • Stretched or blood in the lamina line.
  • Flattened sole.

One of the biggest tell-tale signs is the rings in the hoof wall. Too often this is ignored, but it is hugely significant.

Management is the key to success. Although working progress with the photos above, the above hoof photos are 6 months between them showing the difference regular trimming and management can make.

EVERY horse is capable of becoming Laminitic

There are just those that are more prone than others. Some horses may spend a lot of their life in a sub-clinical state but due to seasonal variations, they may 'cope' ok. That is until too many cards become stacked against them and they succumb to this debilitating condition.

Laminitis isn't just a 'Pony' thing!

All horses and ponies are susceptible under the wrong/right conditions.

Management Plans:

  • Do you have somewhere that you can safely lock up your horse or pony during higher-risk times or if they are already getting sore or showing signs of sub-clinical Laminitis?
  • Have you checked your GutzBusta Hay Net supply to make sure you have them on hand if you do need to start locking your horse and pony up?
  • Are you getting your equine's hooves regularly attended to? In Spring and Summer, they can tend to grow faster. 6 weeks is too long in most cases. This applies to both shod and unshod hooves.
  • Diet - Have you found 'safe' hay that is less than 10% in ESC and starch?
  • Are you watching weather, growth rates and times of day and taking these into consideration for managing your horse or pony? See our last email for more information on this topic and post above.
  • Exercise - even 20 minutes of hand walking 3 to 4 times a week can be helpful.
  • Movement - Horses are meant to move. Having a buddy will increase this movement and keep them content.
  • Reduce stress.