Laminitis (or, “founder”, as it is often called) is, justifiably, one of the most feared medical and lameness conditions of the horse. It can be the end result of many different conditions of the horse, from diarrhea to Cushing’s disease, from uterine infections, to dietary causes, to colic. It can result from a horse bearing too much weight on one leg (as happened with Barbaro), or from excessive trauma to the foot, as might occur if a horse were to go too hard and too long on ground that was too firm.
At this point in time, it’s important to keep several things in mind.
1. Nobody – NOBODY – knows exactly what causes laminitis. There has been a lot of research done on this condition, and a lot of things are more clear than they once were, but we’re still looking to find out what factor (or factors) trigger the condition.
2. Nobody – NOBODY – has a cure for laminitis. In some cases – ones in which there has been serious damage to the internal structures of the hoof – resist any attempts at a cure. If anyone tells you that they have THE cure for laminitis, feel comfortable about showing them THE door.
3. Fortunately, many cases of laminitis take care of themselves. Of course, when treatment is prescribed, the treatment usually gets the credit.
Laminitis can be a frustrating and difficult condition. Because there is no sure cure, there are many, many unrelated treatments, all of which may claim success.
Your best chance of success, when it comes to dealing with laminitis, is to have a sound plan, and have your veterinarian and farrier work together. The treatment options are almost limitless – there are no easy answers.