Many of us will have seen pictures in equine magazines or veterinary books of ponies in a “laminitic stance” – normally trying to get their weight off their front feet or toes. It can be a common thought that laminitis only affects ponies, and from them over-eating.
My first experience of laminitis was after one of my donkeys died (old-age) and the remaining donkey was traumatised by the loss of her companion. Although other horses/animals were still around, and so close company was available to her, the shock of losing her longest friend had a huge impact.
I knew something was wrong because she sat down more often in the field, and generally seemed depressed. Although she wasn’t fat, she wasn’t skinny – and (excess) weight can of course also be a pre-disposing factor. She wasn’t keen on walking very far or fast – again a “pottery” stance can be a sign.
As fellow donkey-keepers know, donkeys are quite good at hiding how they’re feeling, so not the easiest patients to assess as to what is wrong!
The farrier later noticed bruising to the foot, a sign that she had had a laminitic episode. He was able to help ensure her feet were trimmed the best way to help ensure she recovered quicker.
Over recent years there has been a great deal of veterinary research looking at laminitis, and the other similar ailments that can affect equines. But stress is now known to be a cause. My vet confirmed this was the trigger for my donkey, but now that she’d had it once, she was also going to be more likely to have another laminitis episode.
So how did I help my donkey? As well as some TLC, regular farriery treatment, supplements – herbal and homeopathic over a few weeks and months.
Did it make a difference? Yes! Through a combination of time, care and attention, she recovered……
Since then, I’ve been extra vigilant to spot the earliest possible signs to head off any problems before they even start. Helping to make sure she doesn’t have any excess weight and doesn’t over-indulge on rich grass being two of my tips to help.
But did you know there are a variety of holistic approaches that can be used to help horses, ponies and donkeys at risk of (or with) laminitis?
Have a look at my website laminitis advice page here to get more info on the most common complementary therapies to help.
Remember that if you’re worried about your horse, pony or donkey’s health, and think they have laminitis, always get your Veterinary Surgeon’s advice!