Managing your Laminitic

Whilst many people think fat ponies grazing lush pasture are the typical laminitis candidates, in reality, any individual can be affected including top level sports horses and even those that are underweight. Laminitis is often a symptom of an underlying health problem such as EMS, PPID or insulin dysregulation.
The key feeding priorities for laminitis prone individuals are keeping them at a healthy weight and managing their intake of sugar and starch.

Being overweight increases the risk of laminitis in any horse or pony so, to avoid this horrible disease, action should be taken to get your horse’s weight under control. A change in diet is often required to promote weight loss and an increase in exercise, where possible, will help too.

When it comes to reducing sugar and starch intake, avoid using any cereal based concentrate feeds in favour of high fibre, low sugar and starch feeds of an appropriate calorie level. For good doers, Dengie Hi-Fi Lite, Hi-Fi Molasses Free or Healthy Hooves Molasses Free are all suitable options. If the horse struggles to maintain their weight, higher calorie options such as Alfa-A Molasses Free, Alfa-A Oil or Alfa-Beet would be more appropriate.

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Less easy to predict and control is the sugar coming from grazing and forage. Those that can be out at grass should be monitored closely and kept on restricted grazing, particularly in the spring and autumn as these are the times when grass is growing rapidly and so there is a large volume of grass available to the horse. When grass is under stress, such as during a drought and in frosty conditions, the concentration of sugar within grass increases. These can also be higher risk times for laminitis.

For the good doer, a late cut hay is likely to be lower calorie than an earlier cut hay or haylage. Coarser and stalkier hays are generally better for good doers as they tend to be lower in sugar and digestible energy. However, the only way to know for sure is to get the forage analysed. Ideally you are looking for forage with around 10% non- structural carbohydrate which is the water-soluble carbohydrate (sugar) and starch combined. Forages this low can be very tricky to find so soaking hay can help to reduce the calories and sugar levels. This can have variable results according to the duration of soaking, water temperature and the volume of water used.

For further information on laminitis, take a look at Dengie’s Laminitis Guide.

For help and advice on all aspects of feeding call the Dengie Feedline: 01621 841188 or visit the website and complete a Feed Advice Form.

Or if you would like to speak to our staff at GB Total Equestrian, contact us here.

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