Over the stable door

Greetings Fellow Equines and Horse Owners!


The dreaded founder has struck again!

My poor mate Ziggy, who is in his 29th year, has once again developed founder. The first signs were that he was not willing to step out in his walk and was looking lame in front. Founder (laminitis) is a funny thing, because not all horses will show all of the symptoms. With Ziggy, there is not a lot of heat in his front feet compared to normal, although he is lame, but not excessively so. Hopefully it has been caught early and he won’t be in too much pain. My owners have given him some anti -inflammatory medication so that he is more comfortable, but he is a canny soul and doesn’t like to eat his dinner if it has any medication in it! Unfortunately with founder his meals can’t be sweetened with any molasses or carrots etc as sugar is a definite no-no. The usual treatment initially is to restrict access to green, lush grass and then substitute that with good quality dry hay. Also small amounts of lucerne hay are OK to give too. Ziggy is also getting oaten chaff soaked in water to remove any grains. This is mixed in with some Maxi-Soy (which of course he doesn’t like!). If his condition worsens, he will have to have soft padded booties to alleviate pressure on his feet, but so far that has not been necessary. Since it is not good for a horse to not eat for more than 2-3 hours, Ziggy is being fed small amounts of hay during the day to keep his gut ticking over. Fingers crossed, as he will be monitored closely for the immediate future.

Yours truly did founder once several years (6) ago due to a combination of too much access to too good a pasture and a lack of work due to a hoof abscess. That in turn was due to me being lame and having shoes on for the first time, so it was quite a combination of events. Since then I have been in excellent health, especially with my owners keeping such an eagle eye on my weight. At the time I foundered, I was over 500kg ( I am 15hh). All this last 12 months I have been well below that and this winter have even got below 470kg which is a first. I have to say that I do feel sprightlier and move forward well without that extra weight! Since this has been a drier than normal winter, that seems to have kept the grass growth down too and all my other paddock mates are holding their weight well. The problem is that we have not evolved to eat all this lovely rich green stuff, it’s like chocolate is to humans – and too much is deadly. Ideally we have evolved to eat dry pasture with little or no sugar content and to eat that over a period of up to 20 hours a day. Some call this trickle feeding, as in the wild we would walk, eat a little, walk some more etc This could cover anything up to 30 km per day, but in a leisurely way. We really are quite sedentary animals, saving our energy only to express a flight or fight response.

I hope all the equines out there are keeping well and off that dangerous green stuff!

Safe and enjoyable riding to your owners too.