Winter Laminitis with “Sinker” Recovery


Horse: TB x ID

Age: 12 years old at time of incident.






The right fore in 2016, could be more concave but functioning well


This mare had been rock crunching barefoot until winter 2017/18. She’s always had relatively flat feet, but had always done well on them ridden out mostly unbooted.

She moved yards in the autumn of 2017. The layout of the yard meant that her stable was round a corner from the main barn, and could hear the other horses but not see them. By the early December visit both the owner and Equine Podiatrist noticed her heightened stress levels and the owner reported that she had been suffering from colic type symptoms. In January 2018 after a heavy overnight frost, the mare was showing significant discomfort, and her frogs started to look ‘recessed’ into her soles.



The vet attended and diagnosed sinker, which is a form of laminitis where the bony column sinks down the hoof capsule, which in turn causes pressure and discomfort to the soles.


The right fore in March 2018, the foot has sunk with the frog recessed within the sole.


So the main aim of the recovery was to try and understand why this had happened and to do all we could to relieve the soles from more pressure until the situation was stabilised. 






The mare’s stable was moved to the main yard, where she could see other horses more easily. She was fitted with boots and thick pads to provide some relief to her soles. Her diet was closely monitored and she was tested for PPID, EMS and PSSM, all of which came back negative. Her bloods however did indicate some sort of viral infection. She was also carrying too much condition, which in itself wasn’t helping her sore feet. It proved a struggle to find hay that she would eat and that allowed her to lose weight steadily too. After some months of two step’s forward, one step back in terms of recovery, the owner realized that the hunt was regularly close to the yard and that the mare was becoming very agitated when it did. We then began to work on the theory that it was stress that was the primary issue for this horse. When a horse is stressed they will release the hormone cortisol into the blood stream and that will result in raised blood glucose which is linked to inflammation and laminitis. High stress levels will also impact gut function and immune system.



January 2019 the frog is no longer recessed and the sole depth has improved.

In the summer of 2018 she was moved to a new yard. At that point the mare’s recovery really started progressing. Around that time, the mare was also tested for gut health using the relatively new equi-biome test and was found to have more pathogenic bacteria in her gut than is considered healthy. Since changing yards, and feeding for gut health and managing for low stress the mare is making excellent progress, the feet now have the sole depth back and her and her owner are out and about again and enjoying life together.

It took a lot of dedication and thought to recover this mare’s hoof health. And it was not a straightforward case to nail down the cause of her problems. However she’s been a great example of how quickly a foot can improve once the root causes are eradicated.