Treating laminitis is a frustrating assignment for a veterinarian, who must juggle the welfare of the horse, the emotions of the owner, and the skills of collaborating farriers and therapists, and keep up with the latest information on drug therapy and research. In December 2000, the Rochester Equine Clinic (REC) in Rochester, N.H., hosted New England’s first conference on laminitis. Rochester Equine invited some of the top practitioners in the country to speak, then asked them to donate their speakers’ fees to help the research of Chris Pollitt, BVSc, PhD, of the University of Queensland in Australia. All of the speakers agreed. The clinic then canvassed owners of laminitis cases treated at the clinic, and launched a fundraising appeal.
The conference opened on Dec. 7 to a sellout crowd. The Univer-sity of New Hampshire’s New England Center conference complex bustled from a trade show, lectures, panel discussions, a silent auction, and a gala cocktail party. By midnight, more than $10,000 had been raised for the U.S.-based Animal Health Foundation’s fund for the Australian Laminitis Research Unit.
On Dec. 8, the educational opportunities moved to the nearby Rochester Equine Clinic, and lectures were open only to practicing veterinarians and farriers. Rotating “wet labs” covered radiographic innovations with REC principle Grant Myrhe, DVM, shoeing of chronic cases by leading farriers Gene Ovnicek and David Ferguson, therapeutic options for laminitis rehabilitation with REC therapist Patricia Quirion, and dissection and anatomy of acute and chronic hooves with Pollitt and REC surgeon Michael Davis, DVM.
Conference topics centered on practical aspects of prevention and treatment of laminitis. Innovative ideas on ice therapy for acute laminitis were presented by Pollitt, along with new research on the role of pasture management and, in particular, fructan fluctuation in grass-related laminitis and fou