Recovering from Laminitis


Dartmoor Hill Pony, aged 17


This Pony’s previous owners had struggled with acute laminitis flare ups and general unsoundness for a number of years, and when circumstances dictated that they could no longer keep her, her future looked uncertain. The pony was incredibly lucky to have been taken on by a new owner in August 2017. Upon arrival she was managed grass free in a large yard and started on a daily dose of a forage balancing supplement containing good levels of magnesium, zinc and copper, which was gradually brought up to the correct dose for her weight. Her diet consists of a small low sugar and starch bucket feed daily to carry her supplements, and a supply of meadow hay which has been weighed to ensure she gets the correct amount for her weight. It is likely that this pony suffers from an underlying metabolic condition which causes her to be sensitive to dietary sugar.

The initial trim was conservative, given her long history of laminitis and the absence of radiographs. This was repeated after 3 weeks and the pony’s comfort and health improved considerably during this time. Regular trims have been performed since to improve angles and she continues to be sound and happy. Once she was comfortable enough, the pony was taken for walks and a very minimal hand grazing period introduced, whilst her feet were continually monitored for heat and any signs of discomfort.

This pony’s story highlights a very important point, and one which is key in rehabilitating laminitis. The significant improvements to her feet came about because the original cause of the laminitis was removed via her management. Only once the progress of the inflammation is halted, can the feet be restored via conservative and regular trimming. Rehabilitation was carried out on a budget, although metabolic testing and radiographs would have been useful, this lovely pony has recovered despite the absence of these – showing just how significant appropriate management can be in improving quality of life.