Prevention of Laminitis

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According to Natural Hoofcare While there are no guarantees, ever, that a laminitic horse will recover and be fully rehabilitated, the natural care provided by excellent hoofcare will go a long, long way in setting the parameters for the hooves to fully recover. Prevention, of course, is the first line of defense against Laminitis but even with the most diligent of care some horses will founder in spite of it all depending on their natural constitution and systems. It is almost inevitable that horses with Cushing’s Disease will contract Laminitis sometime during their lifetime. The same holds true for Insulin Resistant horses and those with other Endocrine issues. Ensuring that the hooves are balanced, leveled and well attended can help in preventing many of these attacks but if not combined with adequate diet and nutritional vigilance as well as regular exercise and movement, even the best trimmed hooves will succumb to the body’s imbalances as a whole. One cannot separate the hooves from the rest of the horse – what goes in, grows out. Most everything that happens with the horse’s body and mind will be evident in the hooves.


So what can one do to PREVENT Laminitis from occurring?

Well, first and foremost, ensuring the horse has plenty of room to MOVE during the day on varied ground.  While this may be an issue for those who board their horses, even hand-walking the horse for a MINIMUM of 10 mins a day on hard, smooth, tarred surface will go a long way to providing additional movement for circulation in the hooves. Plus, it’s the best conditioner for the hooves one can come up with.


Image from Jaime Jackson, Paddock Paradise

Another solution to the lack of space disallowing much movement is to set up a track program where the horses have to walk AROUND a select area in order to get to water, food, rest, shade, etc.  Jaime Jackson’s “Paddock Paradise” can work on one acre to expansive acreage!  This is a great way to help hooves heal and get into optimal shape.

The best way, of course, is to let a horse be a horse – turnout 24/7 on larger acreage to move about at will. Provide shelter, water, shade and companions and this not only benefits the hooves but the mind and spirit of the horse, as well.

Diet is always paramount to healthy hooves.  What goes in – grows out.

Think of what a ‘wild’ horse eats … pretty much nothing except VARIED forages!  Grasses, flowers, wild herbs, weeds, roots, tree bark, leaves, …even cacti, fruits and natural vegetables according to what the horse’s environment provides.

Horses eat FORAGES.

Photo from

No wild horse is going to have access to specially formulated, bagged feeds and artificial supplements.  Neither do they have access to regulated vaccines and chemical de-worming protocols. Their natural diet of the varied forages helps to keep their systems self-regulating and in perfect homeostasis. It is rare to find a wild horse with laminitis or other maladies such as Cushings and Insulin Resistance (that contribute to a state of Laminitis).

On the other hand, no wild horse is ‘exercised’ daily on empty stomachs so acid splashes all over the upper stomach causing ulcers! They get their own exercise simply with moving and grazing, gently, 18 out of every 24 hours.

So adjusting the diet is a great way to help prevent Laminitis as well as other disabling or even fatal states of health. Horses are hardwired to eat a little bit a lot of the time. A domestic horse that is allowed 24/7 turnout in an old pasture will have the best chances of getting proper nutrition that feeds the hooves well without added bagged feeds or artificial supplements of vitamins and minerals. As said before, this also allows the horse to be balanced in mind and spirit, as well thus reducing the stress on him with, in turn, reduces the chances of laminitis.  Yep, even stress can cause laminitis.

Of course, as in all the previous blog posts, you know that proper hoofcare and balanced trimming for a natural hoof can also go a long way to prevent hoof diseases. 

So those are a few ways that one can help to PREVENT Laminitis … and they’re biggies!

When we treat horses like horses and feed horses like horses we can eliminate much of the hoof issues we see in domestic horses as well as many of the metabolic issues that we encounter as well.


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications includingThe Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:   Gwenyth also offers an online home-study of Natural Hoofcare 101 ... please go here: to view information and to register. 


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