Laminitis = inflammation of the laminae

The laminae is an interlocking, finger-like structure that suspends the pedal bone inside the hoof capsule. When this structure is inflamed and fails to support the pedal bone, the weight of the horse causes the pedal bone to be pushed down into the sole of the hoof. This pressure can often be seen as bruising on the sole of the hoof and in severe, chronic cases can begin to poke out of the sole.

Clinical signs include:

  • Bounding digital pulses
  • Hot hoof walls
  • Leaning back on hunches
  • Lameness in front
  • Often associated with overweight ponies
  • Can occur in any horse
  • Difficult for farrier in front, particularly when tapping in nails
  • Extreme/excessive hoof growth in short amount of time


Role of sugar (carbohydrates) in laminitis
In New Zealand, our most common cause of laminitis is due to carbohydrate overload usually from grass. During peak pasture growth times like spring and autumn, one of the reason horses tend to get more reactive or difficult is usually due to the sugar high/excess energy they have ingested in the pasture. The same sugar in the grass that turns some horses into fire-breathing dragons is the same culprit for causing high risk horses to “founder” or become laminitic.

Laminitis is a crippling condition most often seen in older, overweight ponies in Spring and Autumn but can occur in any horse. Once the laminae is damaged, the likelihood becoming laminitic again (aka Foundering), will be higher than prior to first founder.

Careful management is your best preventative and treatment of these affected or high-risk horses.