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Dan C., DVM
Dan C., DVM, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1183
Experience:  Solo Equine Practitioner/Mobile Practice Owner for 16 years.
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I have a 25 year old gelding with bad laminitis. He

Customer Question

Hello, I have a 25 year old gelding with bad laminitis. He walks very carefully on stones, also has some vertical lines on his hooves, mainly his front ones, it kind of looks like if a person has dry cracked skin. I can also see his ribs though he still eats his feed every night. He has a history of laminitis but it has gotten worse. I dont know whether or not to rid him out on the road or just walk him...
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 2 years ago.
Greetings, and thanks for the question. I apologize for the delay, I just got in for the day.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the reply! I have had Bracken for 14 years and he started to get the laminitis bad a few years ago but, only really bad when he started going out in the field for the summer. In the winter they stay in except for an hour or so in the middle of the day. No, he doesnt have any medication, except I do give him Superflex as he has been stiff before though that might have been the laminitis too. No he hasnt had his feet X-Rayed before. He has HappyHoof, HI-LITE and Fast Fibre for his feed in the evening when they come in. About a hand full of each and hay thats been soaked. He weight tends to come back on in the winter a bit but, his has been losing weight moreso in the past year.
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 2 years ago.
Thanks so much for the reply.
As you probably know, laminitis can be caused by a multiple of factors. One of the most common being an overweight horse eating too much fresh green grass. There are also other causes, such as pounding on the pavement (road founder), metabolic reasons such as Cushing's disease and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). These diseases can affect the feet with not only laminitis, but hoof abscesses as well.
One of the most important things that you can do for Bracken is to have his feet X-Rayed (one view of each hoof only, from the sides). This will give you the information that you need to decide how, or if, he should be ridden. When laminitis is severe enough, it can cause a bone within the hoof (the coffin bone, or P1) to actually rotate from it's normal position downwards, closer and closer to the sole of the hoof. This is an irreversible process, and can cause the horse to endure a great deal of pain, as well as increase his chances of acquiring laminitis again. From the sound of your description of the number of times that Bracken has had laminitis, there is a good chance that rotation will be evident. If this is the case, and it seems as if he is constantly sore, I'd recommend that you consider discontinuing riding him. Just the impact on the ground along with the extra weight can cause the coffin bone to rotate even further. There have been times when I've witnessed the bone coming out of the bottom of the sole. So you can see why X-Rays are so important in this type of situation.
As far as the cause of Bracken's laminitis, it could possibly be metabolic, as he isn't overweight. The weight loss is most likely due to the chronic pain of his feet. You also might want to consider discussing with your Vet the possibility of testing Bracken for Cushing's disease, or EMS. If he is positive for Cushing's, there are effective medications available that can help to ease the condition and give his feet a chance to possibly heal (depending on the degree of the coffin bone rotation), and also decrease his chances of further episodes. Your Vet will know the type of testing that would be best for Bracken, and should be able to discuss options with you.
But most importantly and to get you an answer to your question, the best thing to do is get his feet X-Rayed. Your Vet will be able to determine the degree of rotation, and give you further advice concerning his future use.
I do trust I've been of some help, and please let me know if I can be of any further help.
Best of luck to Bracken, and yourself!
-Dan C.
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 2 years ago.
Good Morning!
Just checking to see if you have any further questions.
If you're in doubt about whether or not to ride or walk Bracken, I'd stay on the safe side and walk him until you can be sure about the status of the coffin bone.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for all the help you've given. I'll try to see what I can do. If I cant get an X-Ray of his feet would the test for Cushing's be enough or not? Also is there any other way to determine the degree of the rotation?
I'm not too concerned about being able to ride him, he did a lot of work earlier in his life. My concern is more for his well being, I dont want him to be in pain.Thank you again :)
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 2 years ago.
Greetings, and thanks for getting back to me.
Honestly, I believe that x-rays would be more beneficial in the long run, as that is the only way to determine the degree of coffin bone rotation. If Bracken is in constant pain due to rotation (again, a common reason for weight loss), there are methods of corrective trimming and sometimes shoeing or padding that can get the feet more comfortable. There are also many types of boots available on the market made for this purpose. I'm attaching a link to one example, which is also a boot that I will prescribe often for chronic hoof soreness.
There is some simple blood work that your Vet can perform to give you a hint as to whether or not your horse is Cushing's oriented. Often, a simple serum cortisol is analyzed, and if the results are high in range, some owners will opt to start the medication on that information only. That does not give your a complete and definitive diagnosis, however. But I have seen significant improvement when owners have gone this route, as the horse in question was indeed Cushing's.
So there are several options for you and Bracken, but again, I recommend considering x-rays as the starting point.
Again, thanks for getting back to me, and please drop me a note if you find the time and let me know how things are going with Bracken.
Best of luck,
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 2 years ago.
Good Morning!
Just checking to see if you have any further questions.
Thanks again,
-Dan C.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Good Morning!
I'm dont have any more questions but thanks for your help :)
Expert:  Dan C., DVM replied 2 years ago.
You're very welcome. I hope all works out well for you and Bracken.
All the best,
-Dan C.