I find it heartbreaking when I see owners struggling with a laminitic horse or pony. It is so difficult to see horses in pain! This time of year can be especially troubling, as it seems sometimes that horses become footsore or laminitic “out of the blue.”
In late July/early August we enter the seasonal rise of the hormone ACTH in all horses, which is normal- it tells their body to adjust their coat etc as the seasons change. In horses with PPID (Cushing’s), ACTH isn’t regulated properly and it can cause all kinds of issues. Sometimes the first sign of early PPID is footsoreness in late July through the fall. Veterinarians can be hesitant to test ACTH this time of year because of the seasonal rise “skewing results,” but it can be very telling to see if the ACTH is rising more than normal or if an already PPID diagnosed horse needs to have their medication adjusted to account for that seasonal rise.
ECIR is a volunteer-based online forum that has been helping owners navigate laminitis and founder rehabilitation for two decades. The horse owners, hoofcare professionals, and veterinarians involved on the forum offer their time to discuss proper diagnosis, nutrition, medication/treatment, and emotional support. I’ve found it such a helpful resource! Dr. Kellon, founding member and veterinarian, has helped pioneer the push for a correct diet for these horses as well. You can read more about diet here.
I was able to chat with both Dr. Jaini Clougher, who in the past has been a veterinary advisor for ECIR, and Dr. Kathleen Gustafson, ECIR director and research advisor, about some of the important points to consider when dealing with a laminitic horse. Their approach starts with DDT+E – proper Diagnosis, proper Diet, proper Trim, and when soundness allows, proper exercise. I talked to them a bit about some of these concepts and how owners can get the help they need for their horse!