Caring for your laminitic horse

Regular check ups are important

Two horses looking over a fence

There are many things you can do to help your horse

How you can help a horse or pony who is prone to laminitis

1) Underlying hormonal disease

Check for and manage any underlying hormonal disease, such as Equine Cushing's disease or EMS.

2) Exercise

Where current laminitis is not a limiting factor, daily exercise aids weight loss and improves insulin sensitivity. Exercise intensity does not have to be high, but aim to build up to regular exercise of 30 minutes or more daily.

3) Diet

Dietary management should reduce both energy intake and non-structural carbohydrates (NSC). Always make changes to your horse or pony’s diet slowly (over the course of at least 2 weeks).

Restriction of grazing using a muzzle or starvation paddock can reduce grass intake while still maintaining exercise obtained during turnout. Simply limiting duration of turnout is unlikely to be successful as horses and ponies are able to consume a large portion of their daily grass intake in the first 2 – 3 hours of grazing.

Soaking hay can be a very useful way of reducing the sugar (NSC) and therefore the calorie content. The length of time you need to soak hay for varies considerably between different hays, so it may be worth having a forage analysis done to find out the energy content of your hay. Soaking time would normally be between 1 – 12 hours, depending on the type and quality of your hay. When giving soaked hay, it is also advisable to feed a broad spectrum multivitamin/mineral and amino-acid supplement (ask your vet for advice).

Feeding hay in haylage nets or inside two hay nets (“double netting”) can help slow down your horse or pony to prolong feeding time.

4) Weight and body fat score

Reaching and maintaining your horse or pony's correct body weight is vitally important. Ask your vet to show you how to use a weigh tape correctly, and how to assess body fat score - this will help you to monitor progress.

5) Vet check-ups

Regular check-ups from your vet will help to monitor the response to any management changes and ensure that any tweaks or changes can be implemented promptly to reduce the risk of future laminitic episodes.