Support Strategies in Chronic Laminitis Cases

One veterinarian says designing a specific strategy that addresses all the needs of an affected foot is key.
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When a horse owner sits down with his or her veterinarian to look at a radiograph of a horse’s laminitis-plagued foot, the last thing that owner wants to see is rotation of the coffin bone in the hoof capsule. Fortunately, in these cases farriers and veterinarians can try to minimize structural damage to the hoof by designing support systems that aim to improve circulation and stimulate hoof growth. At the 6th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held Oct. 28-31 in West Palm Beach, Fla., Scott Morrison, DVM, described his strategies for supporting and treating the feet of horses with low-grade, compensated (stable coffin bone) laminitis and uncompensated (unstable coffin bone) chronic laminitis.

"An effective support system for the compromised hoof involves identifying the areas of compromise and then designing a specific strategy that addresses all the needs of that foot," said Morrison, who heads Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital’s podiatry unit, in Lexington, Ky.

To identify these areas of compromise, Morrison might perform a thorough physical exam–paying special attention to palpating the coronary band–and take venograms (a procedure for visualizing blood flow within the foot) and radiographs (X rays) of the foot. He then designs a shoeing strategy to achieve the following:

  • Alter the hoof angle appropriately;
  • Recruit the frog, sole, and bars into greater weight bearing;
  • Unload or reduce weight-bearing in a particular region of the hoof (generally, that which is most painful or affected by structural damage);
  • Ease resistance to movement;
  • Aid shock absorption; and
  • Increase hoof capsule rigidity.

Morrison bases his treatment approach on each case’s level of severity

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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