Tag: laminitis

Vet update on Prize

The vet came out today around noon and saw Prize. She was much lamer today than she was yesterday. We added extra bedding to her stall for some extra padding. She still just looked like she hurt, poor girl.

The vet had some good news: he’s almost 100% sure it’s not laminitis (yay!). He thinks she has an abscess that is coming to the surface. Hoof testers on the bottom of her hoof showed one localized sensitive spot that she consistently reacted to. If it was laminitis, she would have reacted on more than one foot most likely and it would have been spread throughout the toe of her foot. Her feet are so dry it may take a while for the abscess to come to the surface.

For the nxt few days, we’re going to soak Prize’s front left foot in hot water and keep it wrapped to help add moisture to it. We’re using ichthyamol on the sole. The farrier comes tomorrow. He might be able to do something with it. We will see what happens.

At least we know what it is and it isn’t laminitis.


Prize may have laminitis

When I got to the barn this evening, I had two surprises: Kasane was covered in hives (happened last year too) and Prize was in her stall. I called the barn manager to ask about Prize and to see about giving Kasane antihistamines for a few days. The barn owner and I had been playing phone tag, with my calls not connecting to hers and her phone giving her issues when she tried to dial out. Prize was up because she was having feet issues: her white line on her front feet looked wider, she was stiff, and was also lame on her front feet. She seemed to be shifting her weight a little too the back too. The barn owner thinks Prize has a mild case of laminitis.

Prize was definitely lame more on her front left when I walked her down the barn aisle tonight. When I asked her to turn around, she was very reluctant to turn and was more willing to back up. She had a strong digital pulse in her front left (stronger than her front right). The temperature for all four feet felt the same to me tonight. She was stocked up in all four feet, so I put some liniment (probably to make me feel better).

First thing tomorrow morning I’ll be at the barn and will probably call the vet on the way out. I’ve been remembering the regimens we did for Isis (luckily they are documented on this blog – go me!).

I had a flashback to Isis when she had laminitis. We were lucky with Isis: she came through with little to no rotation and recovered fully. No one could even tell she’d ever had laminitis. (That was my Miracle Mare!) Hopefully Prize will have the same type of recovery. Prize is 27 so our treatment options may be different.

What might have caused her laminitis? It could be so many things: high sugar levels in the grass from the rain and heat, something she ate, a toxin in her system that is working its way out through her feet, etc.

I started taking notes for Prize in the medical journal at the barn. I’ll trace her feet tomorrow like I used to do with Isis. We’re also going to switch Prize over to the same set of supplements Isis used to be on (Pre-Ox and Quiessence), just in case this is a sugar-related issue. Farrier comes on Saturday. I’m hoping I can get the vet out tomorrow. It’s an expense, but laminitis is an emergency. You do what you have to do for the girls, you know?

I’ve been reading through Safer Grass (best source for info on laminitis and grass), especially these articles:

Yeah, I know. That last one is a “worst case scenario.” I never want to think about having to make that kind of decision any time soon for Prize, but I want the article printed and in Prize’s folder at the barn as a reminder.

White line bruises. Arg.

I met the farrier at the barn this morning. Overall, Isis’ feet look good: reasonable growth and plenty of sole and hoof wall. However, she has some bruising in the white line and the white line appears to be thicker.

The white line is actually the growth of the lamina, the part of the hoof that holds the hoof wall to the hoof interior. If the white line is wider (stretching in the lamina: some separation between the hoof wall and the interior hoof structure) or has bruises, then it indicates that some factor has been impacting the lamina. Stressors can include food-related issues (inability to process something in grass, too much food, colic), stressful situations, etc.

The farrier said that he is seeing quite a few horses with the same things showing in their white lines. He thinks it is caused by the lush pastures we have right now. He said to keep an eye on her for a while and monitor the amount of grass or sugars she eats.

Even though the farrier said we should just monitor her white lines, it is still hard to hear that there might be something wrong with her feet. After two boughts with laminitis and losing at least two years worth of riding time because of it, anything abnormal makes me rather twitchy.

Tuesday update

I just talked to the vet. He said that the toxins in Isis’ system are gone (yay!). Unfortunately, her small intestines still aren’t showing any motility. It may take several days for motility to return. It’s not unusual for intestines that were as badly damaged as hers to take a few days to recover. The vet said he’s seen this before. Right now, she is static: mobility isn’t present, but at least she isn’t getting worse. There is a possibility that motility won’t return; but it is too early to know.

Poor Isis had the nose tube put back in last night; she won’t be happy about that. He said they are going to start taking her for walks and just let her get out for a while.

On a good financial note… The insurance company said that they can process partial bills. So if I get an itemized bill for the current charges, the insurance company can start processing (and hopefully have a check to me that I can turn over without having to take out a loan).

The reduced toxins mean less chance of laminitis. Also, the vet said that the digital pulse is something to watch but wasn’t too worrisome. A fluxuating digital pulse could be an indication just of the stress she’s been through. A steady digital pulse could indicate something more serious.

The vet said that she’s a fighter and she’s a very sweet mare. He knows how to get on my good side. 🙂

Guardedly optimistic

The Bay Wonder Mare is a marvel. The way she was today versus on Saturday is worlds different. She felt so much better. When I went into her stall, she was very talkative. She nickered when I put my hand on her forehead, like she does in the field when I greet her. She nickered again when my hand stroked near the halter clip — a sound she always makes when I take off her grazing muzzle.

She seemed much improved today. I was elated when I saw how much better her attitude was today — until the vet student mentioned that Isis has had digital pulses today. That’s not good. She was also shifting her weight from one foot to the other. It could be from discomfort. It made me leery. She shifted her feet like that last time she had laminitis. The shifting could be discomfort from the surgery or it could be something else. So we’re watching her.

So (finally) some good news. And some caution. Laminitis could be very bad, or mild, or not happen at all. Here’s hoping the “L” word doesn’t enter the picture at all.

Isis, Day 3

Bay Wonder Mare in the hospital

Five second summary: Isis had colic surgery today (VERY BAD). I had written a long post about Isis being in the hospital with colic and a slippery-finger mistake caused me to delete the entire entry. It’s too raw to rewrite now.

She was okay at breakfast this moring. The barn manager called me at 9:30 AM, the vet was at the barn about an hour later, and Isis was at the hospital being prepped for emergency surgery by 11:30 or noon. She was out of surgery and in recovery by about 4:30 or so this afternoon. All praises be to close veterinary hospitals.

Isis in the hospital before surgeryOne day she was happy and being her normal playful self. The next she’s lying on her back on the operating table… and you don’t know if she will be there the next day. And this only after a month when she had been showing and doing so well. I’m still in shock…

During the surgery, the vets found a lipoma(1) that had wrapped around Isis’ small intestines. A lipoma is a fatty deposit in her abdomen that, in this case, was suspended from a stalk several inches long. The stalk got twisted around her intestines. On top of that, she part of her large intestine was twisted around, and she had a minor impaction-in-the-making towards her sicum. This type of colic is one of those fluke things that happens. You don’t know when it will strike, or what will happen. It wasn’t caused by any external factors. It was all internal. There was nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this. For being such big, powerful animals, horses are so fragile.

The barn owners were so awesome and supportive. Isis has been boarded at their barn for over eight years. I was one of their first boarders. Isis is like one of their family, just like she is mine. They hauled her in for me and stayed for several hours while we watched her go through tests and surgery.

I’m one of those people who would prefer to watch the surgery instead of waiting some place pacing and not knowing what is going on. As hard as it is to see a horse on her back and her intestines being examined, it’s harder still to be waiting and not knowing. Your imagination has an opportunity to run wild, and that is counter productive, especially when you have to keep your wits about you. I was grateful to the vets for keeping me posted during her surgery and letting me know what they found almost real-time. It was hard to watch, but at the same time, it was a relief to be included in the process.

Keeping focused on getting her care and how she was doing was the only thing that helped me keep my sanity during the day. All I could remember was the last time I’d been on my way to the hospital with a colicky horse. That horse was Isis’ grandmother, Indian Symphony. She died on the recovery table, and left an orphan three-month old chestnut filly (Isis’ dam).

I remembered Symphony’s surgery and the way the small intestines looked grey instead of bright pink. During Isis’ surgery, it was heartening to see that the intestines at least looked pink and had some mobility so they were still functioning. Some of the intestines did look red and aggrevated.

Surgery lasted about four hours. I stayed and watched most of it (except the initial incision, something about that I can’t watch). After she was sutured and closed, she was wheeled into the recovery room. While she was gradually coming around, the anesthesiologist came out and talked to me about her. The two vets who did the surgery also gave me updates. They were all very communicative and helpful. It was comforting and frightening at the same time. They were candid with me, which I appreciated.

They felt that she has a good chance to recover from the surgery (maybe 60%?). One major concern is that she has had laminitis in the past. Any shock or trauma can trigger laminits, as can excess toxins in a horse’s body. The surgery could have both factors. It is possible that she could have some toxicity from the damage caused by the colic. She was given anti-toxin medications as a preventative. Everything that can be done has been done to prevent complications. You just don’t know.

For now, it’s touch and go. I don’t know what will happen. I hope and I pray that my kid will get through this without any problems. Her recovery will be long and hard — 30 days stall rest after she comes home, 30 days small paddock turnout, 30 days pasture rest. It will be much worse than that if she has any complications.

(1) Lipoma: benign fatty tumors that develop on the mesentery around the digestive tract. Some are attached to the mesentery by a very long, narrow stalk. These pedunculated lipomas may entwine around intestine causing a strangulation obstruction. From Terminology Used in Equine Colic, Athletic Animals.

Off her supplement

Okay, I knew Isis’ supplement helped her. The past few weeks have really highlighted just how much she needs it.

For about the past month, Isis has not been eating her supplement. She gets a low-starch pelleted grain and 2 ounces of Grand Meadows Complete, a powdered supplement. She decided that she didn’t like the pellets and she didn’t like the supplement. She quit eating her grain.

Four years ago, we started Isis on Joint Combo Hoof and Coat. It is a pelleted feed supplement with biotin, zinc, MSM, glucosamine, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The week we started her on that supplement, she had horrible rainrot. The poor kid was bald from the tip of her ears to her hocks. I was out of town for a week and had dreaded returning. I knew the rainrot would be worse since I had not been able to treat it for a week. For the first time, she was healing herself instead of the rainrot getting progressively worse.

A few months ago, I changed her supplement to a comparable one that had a higher Omega 3 content. A recent article in Equus or Performance Horseman had outlined the benefits of a higher Omega-3 versus Omega-6 content for horses with laminitis. Unfortunately, this new supplement was a powder instead of a pellet. She ate it for a few months and then decided some time in December or January that she wasn’t going to any more.

In January, she started getting rainrot. At first I didn’t think anything of it, because even when she is on the supplement she would still get mild cases. This time, however, the rainrot continued to worsen. It spread from her legs to her spine and along the drip line on her back and sides (although not under her mane).

Earlier this month I cleaned out several ounces of the supplement out of her bucket. She was off the supplement and the rainrot was back with a vengence. She didn’t care for the grain any more either.

I changed her supplement back to the pelleted Joint Combo and switched her grain from the Triple Crown Low Starch to Triple Crown Complete (also a low carbohydrate grain, although it does contain a little molasses).

Isis is in heaven. She loves this grain. It’s like candy to her after having been on pellets for almost a year.

Tomorrow marks the first week she has been back on the supplement. Guess what? She is finally starting to fight off the rainrot (except she has this nasty stuff on her belly now…)

Frustrating feet

I think I should expand my consulting business to include “horse health specialist.”

With all of the special requirements Isis has for managing laminitis and insulin resistance, I’ve learned more with her than all of the years I’ve had horses. Low carb grain. Grazing muzzles. For months, last year through the beginning of this year, we struggled with keeping the grazing muzzle on her. Finally after we get that to stay on no matter how many times she rubs it against the fence, she trips and falls with me during a lesson… And thus began the second phase of intense frustration. She recovers from the second episode of laminitis, only to trip and fall. We recover from the bruises and scrapes, and then are left wondering why she tripped. Was the tripping caused by muscular-skeletal issues, sensitive feet, neurological problems, or some combination of any of the above?

The one piece of good news was that her problem appears to be muscular-skeletal and sensitive feet, and not neurological (BIG relief). “Team Isis” tried for several months to coincide the farrier and chiropractor visits. It helped, but it didn’t resolve the issue. She still tripped. The only other option was to try using shoes, preferably glue-ons to preserve her feet and not use nails.

Following in the fine tradition established with her grazing muzzle grace, we can’t keep the shoes on her. Yet again, Isis’ shoes are off. And she is ouchy when moving out in the field, near the barn, on almost any hard surfaces. I can’t work her until either she is trimmed again or she has new shoes. The shoes, clips, and glue have to be ordered from different Web sites and take a week or so to arrive. A rush order boosts the shipping to cost almost as much as the shoes.

I’ve had it. I’ve ordered a year’s worth of shoes, glue, clips, and spare tools. No more waiting on orders and losing weeks to waiting on package.

Reebox for her little feet…

Isis’ new shoes arrived today. They were more expensive than the last pair of shoes I bought for me. Regular steel horse shoes cost about $4 each; these were $14.50 each. When you are used to the burnished silver of regular horse shoes, seeing translucent green and yellow shoes is a bit of a shock.

Isis has Easy Walker horse shoes for her spiffy feet. Think sneakers for horses. Horse shoes even have tred patterns. How strange.

However, they are supposed to be ideal for horses with lameness issues (like laminitis and navicular) because the shoes support the horse’s feet and are able to flex with the hoof. The shoes are also breatheable, so they don’t interfere with the delicate balance of tissue on the bottom of the hoof.

Overall, the shoes sound great. We’re going to glue the shoes on using Vettec Adhere, a relatively thick glue that will hold the shoe on and also provide some additional cushioning for the shoe against the hoof. Because Isis’ feet have to be trimmed every three weeks, using nails would be too stressful on her feet. Here’s hoping the glue holds the shoes in place!

The Bane of Easy Keepers

I’ve always had horses who were easy keepers — only taking them off grass would make them lose weight. Isis was no exception. Metabolism? What’s that?

I’ve managed her weight as best I can through nutrition and exercise. It’s not always enough, I can’t get out to the barn as often as I like. The weather does not cooperate either.

Two years ago her weight wasn’t that high, but conditions were right and she had her first laminitic episode in April of 2003. In addition, she pulled her front tendon. She had a classic case: refused to put much weight on her front feet, did not want to walk, severely lame when turned left or right. in addition, her leg was swollen from the tendon. She recovered fully, even though it took 8 months.

In April of 2004, she had her second episode — exactly a year and a week after her first one. We caught the laminitis when it was very mild. She wasn’t completely lame like she had been the year prior. Instead, she would shift her weight from foot to foot as if she couldn’t get comfortable. Again, she also pulled her tendon. This time she only took six months to heal.

Poor kid has had a grazing muzzle on this year. She hasn’t been happy. While it has helped keep her weight down, wearing it has become a battle of wills. She is very good about having it put on her — because she knows she can get it off. No matter what we’ve done, she manages to get it off. She’s gone from a 75% time down to 10%. No matter what readjustements are made, she still manages to get it off. The joys of having a smart “Houdini” horse.

After the last few frosts, we put Isis back out into a regular pasture for part-time turnout. The grass hasn’t been growing. She still is gaining weight. She’s been out for about three weeks now and the weight changes are visible: fat pads on her whithers and rump are back, as is her cresty neck. Other horses have needed her old dry lot paddock. It’s the only flat paddock at the barn. We’re building new paddocks for her, but that takes a little time. Meanwhile, I’m praying and working her more than I ever have in the past.

I just hope it’s enough.

I used to have nightmares about laminitis. I’ve had friends who have had to put their horses to sleep because of this condition. It’s a horrible thing to see a horse who is barely lame one day and then lying down because the pain it so bad the next. I didn’t want this for my kid.

Now that she has it, I’m trying to deal with it the best way I can: knowledge.

Laminitis resources

Web sites, mailing lists, and articles available online for laminitis:


Safer Grass: A Web site by Katy Watts with a lot of information for both the owner and the veterinarian on laminitis and insulin resistance in horses. Excellent site.

HorseShoes.com Laminitis and Founder articles: Wealth of information on this farriery site.

Hoof Project: The Hoof Project (HP) is an electronic journal that is focused on the foot of the horse. The HP seeks to be both an educational and a reference resource for educated horsemen and equine professionals who have an interest in learning more about the foot of the horse. Subscription site.

Laminitis Myths: Debunking myths about laminitis (from a Horse & Rider article)

Understanding Founder in Horses: A veterinarian explains laminitis, a serious hoof condition commonly known as founder, in simple terms — how and why it happens and what it means to you and your horse. By Joyce Harman, DVM, with Kip Goldreyer. This article apeared in the August 2002 issue of Practical Horseman.

Holistic Help for Horses with Laminitis: Virginia-based veterinarian Joyce Harman, who uses traditional veterinary medicine plus acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and other alternatives to treat a wide array of patients, explains what you can do to help if your horse founders. From the August 2002 issue of Practical Horseman.


Equine Nutrition: Articile from EquiSearch.com about equine nutrition, including descriptions about how the horse’s digestive system works, the latest feeding recommendations, and more.

Fructan in Foods: Sugars in grass and how horses metabolise them.

Magazine articles

"Danger in the Grass" in the April 2004 issue of EQUUS magazine. Talks about how an over-abundance of fructans in grass may be related to an increased occurrance of laminitis.

"A Case of Insulin Resistance" by Susan Kauffman in the January 2005 issue of EQUUS magazine, page 29. How a common but litte-known condition similar to Type II dibetes triggered a painful and frustrating episode of laminitis. Excellent reading and background material. This issue is available on the stands now. Highly recommended.

Houdini Horse, part 3

We’ve had some cold weather, so Isis is in a small pasture with grass. Her grazing muzzle is put on every morning. Her new pasture has only a little grass in it, most of it is that light shade of tan that happens after several heavy frosts. The diet paddock she had been in had turned into a mud pit and she was started to get scratches on her heels.

She has been out for about three weeks on partial turnout (day-time only). She has had her grazing muzzle on her full time. Had it on does not mean that it has been effective.

Miss Houdini Horse has figured out how to get it off almost every day. It doesn’t matter what we do with the muzzle, she still gets it off. She has learned how to catch the muzzle on objects and pull it down so either the emergency release breaks or it comes off over her nose.

Additional smaller paddocks are being built for Isis. Ths field Isis is currently in is being divided into two smaller paddocks where she’ll be able to be turned out with minimal grass. The grass in this pasture is very low as it is, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

She is still gaining weight. The weight tape doesn’t incidate that it’s more than 16 pounds (969 to 985). However, her crest is larger as are the fat pads along her neck, back, and rump.

I am making more time to work her. I’ve gone out several times this past week during lunch and have ridden and lunged her. This week she has been worked five times, probably a record for me. I just don’t know if it will be enough. As long as it doesn’t rain, I’ll be out there working her.

Here’s hoping that it’s enough to prevent another laminitic episode…

This month’s Equus has an article on page 29 called “A Case of Insulin Resistance: How a common but little-known condition similar to Type II diabetes triggered a painful and frustrating episode of laminitis” by Susan Kauffmann. Physical signs for horses who might be at risk include abnormally distributed fat: crest, whithers, and croup. The horses they have pictured are strikingly similar to Isis’ shape.

Does this mean that Isis has insulin resistance? I don’t know. It’s worrisome because those pictures of horses with this condition really looked like Isis. I’ve asked my vet if we should test Isis.

Vet visit results

Good news. Well, kinda good news. Isis’ lameness was caused by an abscess and not by a flareup of her laminitis. The vet’s examination showed a sore spot on Isis’ front right foot. Boy was there a lot of nasty gunk in her foot. No wonder she was so sore.

Isis wll be on bute for 10 days or so and her foot will be wrapped during that time. So she’ll be okay. It was a good thing that we called. Apparently, an episode like that could aggrevate her laminitis, so the important thing is to get the pain under control and take care of things quickly.

The funny thing is that I’m going to be wrapping Isis’ hoof with a diaper, one size above newborn. Have you ever tried to purchase a package of 10-15 diapers? Wal-Mart and CVS only sell diapers in packages of 30-50. She has a diaper supply that will last her for many years now.

Lameness, revisited

Poor mare. She is still lame.

When the farrier came out today, I asked him to watch Isis move before trimming her. We brought her into the ring and asked her to trot and walk (briefly) both directions. Clockwise, she bobbed her head slightly and was obviously limping. Counterclockwise, she flung her head and trotted with her tail up with out an evident limp. (Last time she flung her head around like that, she was considerably lamer the next day.)

I’ve wondered if her neck being sore would cause her to have this kind of strange lameness, where she is obviously lame only going one direction.

I asked the farrier which leg — he thought it was her front left. I’ve thought it was her front right. It’s so hard to tell because of the way she’s been moving. I just don’t know what is going on with her legs. Seems like nothing I do helps her to improve.

She hasn’t had a real workout since the trail ride. I’ve lunged her three times, both times about 15 minutes mostly at the walk. The one day when she was feeling great, I asked her to trot — and she didn’t want to stop.

The farrier trimmed Isis and pointed out that rocky ground can trigger a laminitis episode. Well crap. And double crap. And triple…

Soreness, part 2

Isis is still lame today. We’re going to give her a bute tonight and tomorrow and see how she does. The liniment seems to be helping.

The lameness is very strange. It is worse going counterclockwise in the ring, and barely noticeable going the other way. Hard to pick out what is causing it when her feet are sore from the rocky trail.