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Winter Laminitis

Winter Laminitis - I have been reading quite a few posts recently on Winter Laminitis and thought I would share my experiences with what I am finding with Urban Horse Rocket Roo at present. Roo was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease / PPID when he was just turning 9. He is now 15 ½ and every year I have been learning more and more to try to manage his condition. He has never been fully tested for EMS or IR but I do believe he has metabolic issues going on alongside the PPID.  One crucial change that has really helped was to simply take him off the grass and build him his own track system. He has really limited access to grass now and is mainly fed beautiful quality low sugared haylage 24/7. One factor I have always found key for his soundness is lots of movement. He is also on Prascend and has his ACTH levels tested twice a year.  

Roo had his first bout of laminitis in January 2019. Luckily, I noticed the signs early so we managed to get him back up and running by March / April. However, since then he has had slight footie days which tend to happen more in the winter. Combined with a month long mystery lameness (no heat or swelling) this Aug / Sept time in his hind leg that I strongly suspect was his first ever abscess. 

November 2020 we had a warm wet spell followed by a cold snap up in Cumbria. I rode out one day and all was fine. The next day I rode out and he was really footie and wanting to pick to the verges so I stopped, got off and walked him back. Of course, I spend hours thinking about Roo’s management (it can be exhausting at times) and logically what could have caused this footieness. Other than internal gut changes I concluded there were 4 potential factors that had changed over the last week. 

•             There was a frost the night in-between

•             He had bruised / hurt himself the day before

•             I had started this year’s haylage

•             I had trimmed him the weekend before 

I ruled out the trimming, as he had been fine all week after the trim, I also ruled out the bruising to his sole as he wears hoof boots. That left either the cold snap or the new haylage. My gut feeling was it was the cold affecting his circulation - I had wrapped his legs throughout the backend of winter 2019 as I was beginning to suspect the cold really affected his lower limbs mainly in his front hooves. Just to be sure, I sent this year’s haylage off for testing even though it always comes from the same farm and I have had it tested in the past. The results came back once again as really low levels of ESC / WSC and ideal for feeding Laminitics (ESC is a measure of the very simple sugars and WSC is a measure of the ESC plus the more complex sugars present in the haylage sample). Therefore, I have started to simply wrap Roo’s legs again whenever it is around 4C and below. And so far so good - even throughout the snow / frost / cold spell we are experiencing in Cumbria at the moment, Roo has been sound throughout. 

I know it does seem crazy that a “roughty toughty coblet” has to have his legs wrapped and his body rugged, but it works for Roo. I have also found fully clipping him years ago was the easiest way of managing the lethargy and sweating when his hair became so thick and the warm / milder days were just too much for him. Therefore, my findings are cold / lack of circulation is definitely a factor that can cause footiness / lower limb lameness. 

Also movement is so important in keeping Roo sound as well. With the roads being so icy / slippery for quite a while now I have also had to think up new ideas to keep him moving as I haven’t been able to lead him / ride him out. These consist of bareback riding in the fields and very low levels of straightness training. Plus of course Urban Horse Maximus the baby fireball mini Shetland running around and jumping all over him tends to lead Roo to start to chase after him. 

For wrapping Roo’s legs and even though he is out 24/7, I tend to use a mixture of back on track products and magnetic wraps / magnetic products as follows. Some are shown within the images.. 

Back on Track Scandic Wraps and bandages

LeMieux conductive magno wraps

StreamZ Equ Bands (only when not using any other magnetic products)

Author Carolyn Hymers - Urban Horse - January 2021


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