Confessions of a Horse Nutritionist #1: Laminitis

As horse owners we sometimes give ourselves a really hard time for not doing ‘the right thing’ for our horses. I was speaking with a gorgeous friend last week whose pony had gotten laminitis.

Poor gal was distraught and feeling horribly guilty that she had let this happen! I said to her ‘in case it makes you feel better… all of my horses have HAD laminitis… I know so much about this dang disease and it still snuck up and got me (or them really, my hooves were just fine 😂)!’

It did make her feel better… which gave me the idea that I should share more of these moments in ‘Confessions of a Horse Nutritionist’ posts!

So here we go, confessions of a horse nutritionist #1!

My horses have all had laminitis!

Yep, all of them (I had my beautiful Quilla at the time, which made 3 from 3 with this dreaded disease)!

And it was in the middle of Summer (that’s a low risk time right… my first mistake!)

It was a quarter horse with no family history of the disease (my second mistake!)

A 4 year old stock horse, her dam (Quilla) had had laminitis as a youngster but for some reason I thought she was too young to get it (third mistake!)

And a 20ish year old stockhorse (who had had laminitis as a 5 year old before insulin dysregulation and metabolic laminitis were even understood… goodness knows what I was thinking with her, I will blame babies and sleep deprivation for this one, and the fact it was summer… no one gets laminitis in summer right… no… wrong)!

They were on sub-tropical grass, and it doesn’t accumulate enough non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) to be an issue (Nope, wrong again! This liverseed grass was going from 8% NSC at sunrise to 20% at sunset! Yikes!! Fourth mistake!!)

They were overweight, but surely not enough to get laminitis (ahh groan… I’ve learnt my lesson on this one! Fifth mistake!)

Turns out the high sugar grass and the obesity served me up the perfect storm and brought down all of my horses within 2 weeks with laminitis!

Luckily for them, their saving grace was I was onto it REALLY fast. Straight off the pasture, straight onto a low starch, low sugar hay. And within a week they were all sound at the walk and soon after fully sound again.

Popcorn (who was 4 at this time) now even has amazing gravel crunching hooves!

I learnt SO MUCH going through this experience. I figure my horses were just helping me to become a better nutritionist right?! As nerve wracking and guilt inducing as it was!

I have written down everything I have learnt about laminitis over the years to help you if you suddenly find yourself in the same situation as I did! While the disease can sneak up on all of us, the key to saving your horse (or pony) is to get on top of it really fast!

Here is everything I currently know to help you save your horse from laminitis! I truly hope it helps! And don’t be too hard on yourself, we are all doing the best we can with what we have at the time!


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