Equine Laminitis – The Condition the Symptoms and the Treatment

Laminitis is a highly traumatic and painful condition, that can affect ponies and horses, and requires immediate first aid treatment provided by your veterinary surgeon and farrier. This condition is ideally treated using the Imprint® Equine Foot Care System together with other medication and advice as prescribed by your veterinary surgeon.

It is important that laminitis treatment begins swiftly and advice followed carefully to increase the likelihood of a full recovery for your horse.

Equine laminitic foot

Laminitic foot.

What is Laminitis?

Laminitis is a major vascular crisis that results in inflammation and weakening of the laminal structures and bonds within the horses hoof. The damage to the hoof tissue could be severe and may cause rotation and sinking of the pedal bone.

The following symptoms may indicate the presence of laminitis:

  • Difficulty in walking and turning
  • Standing awkwardly with more weight on hind legs, whilst shifting weight from one foot to another.
  • Hooves may feel warm to touch with increased digital artery pulse rate.
  • Depression at coronary band

The Inside Story

The blood supply to the hoof has been disturbed through a laminitic trigger factor that affects the horse’s metabolism. Possible trigger factors include diet, toxaemia, stress, hoof concussion or another condition e.g. Equine Cushing’s Disease.

  • As a result of metabolic disturbance, blood vessels have become constricted, thereby reducing oxygen and other nutrients to the hoof and laminal tissues.
  • The laminae become damaged and weakened and pull away from the hoof wall.
  • The pedal bone is no longer supported by laminal structure and begins to rotate and descend towards the sole.
  • The tissue in the sole of the foot becomes compressed, more blood vessels collapse leading to further crushing and subsequent infection.
X-ray showing equine foot with capsular rotation

X-ray showing capsular rotation.

The Treatment

  1. Stable your horse on a clean, dry, deep, large flake shavings or straw bed
  2. Administer medication as prescribed by your vet
  3. Review your horse’s diet with your vet
  4. Your vet will organise radiographs (X-rays) of the affected hooves
  5. Your farrier or referral farrier will trim & re-balance hooves using radiographs
  6. Your farrier or referral farrier will apply Imprint First shoes
Imprint First Shoe

Imprint First – Aid for Laminitis

The Imprint Laminitis Treatment Programme

The Imprint Equine Foot Care System was developed by Andrew Poynton, FWCF, after many years of research, development and consultation with veterinarians and farriers into suitable treatments for laminitis. Imprint Equine Foot Care System utilises patented, low-melt, thermoplastic technology that enables the Imprint shoe to be moulded and glued to the hoof without the need for nails. Their application to a carefully trimmed and balanced foot, with the aid of radiographs, is non-traumatic and the recovery rates are consistently good. Imprint First shoes provide immediate support by stabilising and inhibiting pedal bone movement via the unique Imprint Frog Cradle™.
Once the shoes have been applied, the horse should experience immediate comfort and pain relief – the pressure now being taken by the Imprint shoe and not the sole. The shoes are generally fitted in pairs to provide even support, and laminitis normally affects both front or in more severe cases, all four feet.
The Imprint Equine Foot Care System is prescribed by leading equine veterinarians and fitted by qualified farriers both nationally and internationally.

Horse with Laminitis Before

Before treatment

Horse with Laminitis After

After treatment

On-going Care

  1. Continue with box rest for at least 30 days or until advised by your vet.
  2. Maintain a bed of clean, dry, large flake wood shavings or straw that allow air to circulate under the sole.
  3. Review the horse’s diet with your vet.
  4. Pick out and thoroughly disinfect hooves twice a day to avoid build up of foreign matter.
  5. Re-application of Imprint shoes as directed by your farrier approximately every 5 weeks to ensure ‘ideal’ pedal bone/ hoof capsule alignment. Further radiographs may be required or requested by your farrier.
  6. During the next stage of recovery, when the horse is being given gentle exercise, Imprint Plus shoes should now be applied. With their improved polymer formulation, Imprint Plus shoes provide all the support and flexibility together with increased wear and grip qualities on most surfaces.
Imprint Plus Shoe

Imprint Plus – For next stage recovery from Laminitis

Equine Laminitis, the Condition the Symptoms and the Treatment – to download the above information in our Aid for Laminitis leaflet please go here.