Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twas the Night Before Laminitis Was Conquered, and All Through the Horse World...

Jennifer MacNiell-Traylor's photo of twisted branches strung with holiday lights evokes Dr. Chris Pollitt's famous  images of  capillaries in the horse's foot's laminar region. The Animal Health Foundation has helped Dr. Pollitt and countless other laminitis researchers illuminate the inside of the hoof so we can better understand how both the normal foot and the laminitic foot are constructed and function.
Are you a horse owner? Here is a special way to thank a groom, a farrier, a veterinarian or a fellow horse lover.

Are you a horse professional? Let your clients know that your donation to laminitis research in their name will help prevent, treat, and understand laminitis all over the world.

Won't you help us illuminate laminitis, and conquer it, in 2013? 

Scroll to the end of this post for an easy-to-use donation form.

The Animal Health Foundation, the world's premier grassroots charity dedicated exclusively to the funding of critical equine laminitis research, appreciates your last-minute holiday donations.

And we've made it easy for you: The Animal Health Foundation's PayPal button allows you to make a donation right through the holiday. You can use any major credit card or your PayPal account. Donate any hour of the day, any day of the week!

Your donation helps the Foundation continue to fund research such as
  •  Dr Nick Frank's study of a simple, low-tech way for owners and vets to work together to test a horse's insulin level;
  •  Dr. Chris Pollitt's world-famous Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit's studies of the mechanism of laminitis. 
  •  Dr. Melody De Laat's work on insulin-like receptors in the horse's foot and how they may function (or malfunction) in a laminitis episode. 
Those are just a few of our recent projects.

In 2012, AHF also produced and published a five-video series for horse owners on the use of current research in preventing, treating and understanding laminitis and conducted an educational webinar attended by thousands of horseowners via Equus Magazine and In addition, Dr. Walsh attended the Equine Endocrinology Summit and discussed current and future research on Equine Cushing's Disease.

We are sure that, with your help, 2013 will be a watershed year in the study of laminitis.

Please add your large or small donation to the funds that have been raised to date by horse owners and horse professionals all over the world. Your gift to the Animal Health Foundation goes straight to research, and we always share the findings of our projects through lectures, articles, this blog, and our educational YouTube channel.

We all know that horses can't beat laminitis without our help, and researchers can't unravel the disease without our funding.

We have more work to do to free the horse of this disease.

Your holiday gift donation for your friend, colleague, or professional supporter will be appreciated very much. (Just click the PayPal button to reach an easy-to-use donation form.)

Thank you, from horses everywhere.

If you prefer, you can also mail your donation to:

Animal Health Foundation
3615 Bassett Rd.
Pacific, MO 63069

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Equine Laminitis Research Open Access Project Highlights Studies Funded by the Animal Health Foundation

The Animal Health Foundation would like to share the news that laminitis research funded by the charity is now available for review by donors and potential donors through a publication grant by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Foundation in Great Britain.

BEVA's Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) is giving the public open (free) access to a collection of important new research papers on equine laminitis, including studies by American and Australian researchers supported by the Animal Health Foundation.

Normally, non-subscriber access to these articles would be as much as US$40 per view, per article.

The papers include practical advice as well as the latest research.

Professor Celia Marr, BVMS, MVM, PhD, DEIM, DipECEIM, MRCVS, and editor of the EVJ explains: “In view of the growing public interest in high quality science, there is increasing demand for easy, open access to journal articles via the internet, particularly on topics such as laminitis.

"In recent years, there has been an explosion of knowledge and new thinking about this devastating condition. We have also recognized that some of the old-fashioned remedies, such as standing in cold water, have sound science behind them. I hope that horse owners who are unfortunate enough to have come across laminitis will find this new online resource valuable.”

Laminitis is an equine health crisis whose time has come. The British Equine Veterinary Association Foundation recognized the need for open access to the latest research, and responded by opening a special edition of its journal to the public. (BEVA image)
The EVJ laminitis virtual issue, comprising 15 original research articles on topics including the role of insulin, the effects of cryotherapy and the regulation of epidermal stem cells in affected horses, is available at

In addition, the issue contains several articles from international experts commissioned by the EVJ on important aspects of laminitis including causes, treatment, prevention and future research projects. Contributors to this special issue include world-leading equine veterinary and research experts on the subject of laminitis: James Belknap, Ray Geor, Samuel Black, James A. Orsini from the USA, Andrew van Eps, Melody De Laat, Martin Sillence and Chris Pollitt from Australia and Nicola Menzies-Gow from the UK.

Subjects covered include the present state and future of laminitis research, endocrinological aspects of the pathophysiology of equine laminitis, sepsis-related laminitis, supporting limb laminitis and progress towards effective prevention and therapy for laminitis.

The EVJ has a long history of promoting laminitis research. In 2004, the publication produced a special issue dedicated to laminitis and since that time significant numbers of articles on laminitis have been published every year.

Professor Marr concludes: “We hope that this special laminitis virtual issue will provide the rigor and quality of information that many horse owners are now seeking, to help them to understand and deal with this condition as effectively as possible.”

Click to support essential laminitis research with the Animal Health Foundation

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Secretariat's Laminitis: Where were you on October 4, 1989?

Today is the anniversary of the death of the great racehorse Secretariat. We look back on what laminitis meant then, what it means now, and what we are doing to change the picture of this terrible disease.

It was a dark day in laminitis history, and we could serenade you with all the right moving words that will tug at your heart-strings. But why not go back to that day and see how the news media reported the death of America's great racehorse? The horse who could win it all--except when he came up against laminitis.

Twenty-three years have passed since Secretariat's tragic death, which was attributed to laminitis and the need to spare the great racehorse pain. How far have we come? Horses--even rich and famous ones like Secretariat--are still euthanized because of laminitis.

We know so much more, but not enough--yet.

The Animal Health Foundation had barely begun when Secretariat's death was announced. We thought we could figure laminitis out quickly if we raised enough money. But the disease has stayed a step ahead of us. Now we know we are close, and we know that the mission can be accomplished.

Nothing makes us take stock of where we've been and where we're going like today's anniversary. And nothing inspires us to keep unraveling laminitis like the knowledge that even the great Secretariat knew its pain.

We hope you will stop what you're doing and make a donation, however small, to the Animal Health Foundation, whether in Secretariat's memory or any other horse.

Signed and numbered prints of Secretariat by renowned 
equine artist Helen Hayes of Lexington, Kentucky, 
will be awarded to all donors of $250 or more.

Help us end this terrible disease. Use the PayPal button in the right sidebar or visit our donations page to learn more how you can join the laminitis research effort.

You can also mail your donation to:

Animal Health Foundation
3615 Bassett Rd.
Pacific, MO 63069

The Animal Health Foundation's projects are large and small. We support researchers at universities around the world. 100% of donations go directly to laminitis research.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Laminitis Research: Where Does Your Money Go? Animal Health Foundation Funds Melody de Laat’s Study of Insulin-Like Receptors in the Horse’s Foot

It’s a long, long way from Queensland, Australia to Stillwater, Oklahoma. The University of Queensland had palm trees and kangaroos. Oklahoma State has pickup trucks and cowboy hats.
What could  uproot a young woman and move her halfway around the world?

Two words: Laminitis research.

Melody de Laat was a rising star back in Queensland. She earned a PhD as part of the world-renowned Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit. Director Chris Pollitt, BVSC, PhD instilled in her the curiosity and the drive to earn not just a doctorate, but a place in the small but significant legion of successful laminitis researchers scattered around the world. 
Working with Dr. Pollitt, Melody discovered that receptors designed to receive insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) may be binding to insulin instead in horses when horses have high levels of insulin.

This groundbreaking discovery may enable scientists to develop strategies to try to block IGF-1 receptors from receiving insulin and prevent the disease from occurring.

The equine foot is very dependent on glucose for metabolism, but it is not dependent on insulin to deliver that glucose. Horses have a large number of IGF-1 receptors in their feet, but no insulin receptors. Pollitt’s team theorizes that these IGF-1 receptors are being stimulated by insulin that mimics insulin-like growth factor 1 and is binding to these receptors.

When this happens, the lamina stretch, and laminitis occurs.

To continue her research, Melody accepted a post-doctoral position at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Even though she has only been there a few months, she’s hard at work.

Before Melody left Australia, she accepted a challenge to explain her PhD research in plain English to an audience who knew nothing about laminitis or horses--in three minutes.

Melody’s research at Oklahoma State is funded by your donations through the Animal Health Foundation. Will her research make a difference to horses at risk for laminitis? The Animal Health Foundation believes it will. 

Here’s a brief description of the project we are funding,  with your help:
Investigation of the regulation of glucose transport and insulin signaling pathways in the insulin-induction model of laminitis
Problems associated with abnormal glucose (i.e. sugar) and insulin processes are of particular interest and concern in horses where a persistently increased level of insulin in the blood causes the development of laminitis. This condition is a relatively common one among many breeds.
The current AHF-funded project being investigated by Drs. Lacombe and de Laat at Oklahoma State University aims to investigate how glucose transport and insulin signaling are regulated in the heart, muscle and lamellar tissues (in the feet) of horses that have laminitis associated with hyperinsulinaemia. 

This will be compared to glucose and insulin regulation in the same tissues of normal horses.

Why is this important research?

1. This project will study tissues that have not been previously examined to assess the pattern of glucose metabolism during very high blood insulin levels. 

2. The work will build on the limited available data on lamellar metabolism in horses with insulin-associated laminitis by investigating new topics such as intracellular signaling and inflammatory pathways in the foot and how they relate to glucose transport.

3. Characterization of the changes in glucose transport during conditions of high insulin will provide new insights into the mechanisms of insulin resistance in horses and may facilitate the development of novel therapeutic interventions for the management of metabolic diseases in horses. 

4. Finally, better understanding of the insulin-signaling processes in the foot during increased insulin availability will improve our overall understanding of laminitis. 
This may lead to new avenues for disease treatment and prevention.  

The Animal Health Foundation is encouraged by Melody’s continued involvement in laminitis research, and in her move to the United States. We are confident that her research will yield results that will move our efforts forward and ever closer to our goal of ending this terrible disease.

Thank you for your support of the Animal Health Foundation’s laminitis research.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Equine Endocrinology Summit: The Animal Health Foundation's Laminitis Research Connection

Is laminitis research just a jumble of complicated words? Dr. Walsh helps us find out why research into equine endocrine problems is critical to understanding why, how, when and if horses get laminitis.

Dr. Don Walsh
The Animal Health Foundation's Dr Don Walsh has answered some questions about The 2012 Equine Endocrinology Summit and how the information presented relates to laminitis research. Some of the speakers at the Summit included AHF-funded researchers Melody De Laat from Oklahoma State, Nicholas Frank from Tufts and Philip Johnson from the University of Missouri.

AHF: What is The Equine Endocrinology Summit? 

Dr. Walsh: The leading scientific researchers in the field of Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) gathered in Boston on September 7-8 under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Frank, Professor and Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences in Large Animal Internal Medicine of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. I had the privilege of attending this meeting, which was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica’s Equine Division.

AHF: Why, with all the other conferences, would this meeting be needed? 

Dr. Walsh: We met to discuss the latest research findings and to shape opinion regarding the future research most needed to prevent horses from developing this type of painful laminitis. These gatherings allow for researchers who may have only known someone as a name on a manuscript to meet and interact with each other on a very informal basis. Ideas are exchanged, questions asked, friendships made, and collaborations often occur.

AHF: Did you talk only about metabolic problems? What about laminitis?

Dr. Walsh: Although Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) was the main subject, some time was delegated to hearing the latest information regarding PPID (Cushing’s Disease). Both conditions are extremely relevant to laminitis, since so many affected horses develop laminitis. To understand this type of laminitis, research is exploring endocrine processes that can initiate laminitis. While EMS and PPID were the area of great interest this year, the Summit previously also covered other endocrine disorders.

AHF: What does this group hope to achieve? 

Dr. Walsh: The general direction and driving goal of the group is to find ways to diagnose both EMS and PPID earlier, before horses develop the crippling disease laminitis.

AHF: What was this meeting's most important new development relevant to the Animal Health Foundation's interest in laminitis research? 

Dr. Walsh: One of the most widely agreed upon ideas, regarding a diagnosis of EMS, was the use of an oral sugar test to reveal an abnormally large insulin and or glucose response seen in the blood measured 75 minutes after an oral dose of sugar is given. Those horses and ponies that test positive are at high risk of developing laminitis and will require special husbandry practices and in some cases drugs to maintain normal levels of insulin and normal feet. AHF is integrally involved in this research project (see upcoming article) with Dr. Nick Frank at Tufts University.

AHF: What does this mean to our horses that are at risk for EMS-type laminitis? 

Dr. Walsh: I can imagine that, in the near future, we might include an oral sugar test as part of the annual physical exam. It might work like this: the owner gives the horse two ounces of common household Karo syrup before the veterinarian arrives. Then the veterinarian takes a blood sample 75 minutes later to test the insulin and glucose levels. If the horse has any symptoms of PPID (Cushing’s Disease), a test for ACTH can also be done.

AHF: How does that relate to laminitis? 

Dr. Walsh: We know that both EMS and PPID can result in laminitis. The changes start to occur when insulin levels are elevated for a prolonged time, causing alterations in the growth pattern of the foot. This results in abnormal rings on the external hoof capsule and a separation in the hoof wall at the toe, when seen from the bottom of the foot. Early recognition and correction of the insulin level is essential to prevent laminitis. 

AHF: Did you have a favorite personal experience? 

Dr. Walsh: One of the highlights of the conference for me was meeting and enjoying a good visit with Dr. Jill Beech, who is now retired from University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. Her wisdom and experience and plain good common sense was demonstrated by her participation in many discussions during the meeting. Getting to spend some time with this great researcher was very inspiring to me. There was great planning and organization and running of the program by Dr. Nick Frank.

Read the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Consensus Statement on Equine Metabolic Syndrome, published in 2010 and co-authored by Dr. Frank.

Watch the Animal Health Foundation's short video on how Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushing's Disease (PPID) are related to laminitis.

Note: Text and images © Animal Health Foundation, 2012. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Animal Health Foundation "Laminitis Lessons for Every Horse Owner" with Dr. Don Walsh: Watch It Now

Please allow sufficient time for this one-hour video to load

Sit back and invest an hour in learning about grass-related laminitis, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, and insulin resistance in horses. This video slideshow can be stopped and started as often as you like. 

We hope it shows the commitment of the Animal Health Foundation to both laminitis research and education. Your comments are welcome; use the comment button at the end of this post.

Back in May 2012, the Animal Health Foundation's Dr Don Walsh worked on a special project with the website and EQUUS Magazine. They created a one-hour video slide lecture, and hosted it as "webinar", or online real-time event, on the dangers of spring laminitis. Thousand of people registered to attend.

Dr. Don Walsh
A special feed from allows us to now post this video here on the Animal Health Foundation website. This means that you can watch this video at any time, and as many times as you'd like.

It also means that you can share this video. All you have to do is use the little set of symbols for social media tools at the end of this post or copy and paste the "url" (address) from the browser window and paste it into a Facebook status update, or into a tweet, or on Google Plus or any number of places. You can also give it a +1 on Google search, so you social friends can see that you recommend it.

If you have a web page or blog, you can also link to this page. Use the little envelope symbol at the bottom of this post to email this post to anyone--and everyone--you know who is concerned about laminitis.

But most of all, we hope that you will share the enthusiasm for this helpful information by making a personal donation to the Animal Health Foundation's lamintis research efforts. That's all we do: lamintiis research. Your contribution is critical to keeping the momentum of laminitis research moving forward. 

You should see a "donate now" button in the right-hand sidebar of this web page. Just click it to go Paypal and make your donation of any size, in any currency, using almost any major credit card, or send a check to the address below.

The next research project funded by the AHF might be one that makes a difference to your horse or your future horse. The Animal Health Foundation has made a difference in unraveling the disease of laminitis--but we're not done yet, as long as people like you are part of the effort to end this terrible disease.

Thank you!

PS If you would rather make a donation by check, please mail it to Animal Health Foundation, 3615 Bassett Rd. Pacific, MO 63069. Email for more information about funding opportunities.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Equine Laminitis 2012 Update: Now with Video!

New updated Laminitis videos are now posted on our website. Five concise, free, non-commercial videos from the non-profit Animal Health Foundation offer the latest practical and scientific information to help you help your horse avoid or overcome laminitis in its many forms. Your host: Donald Walsh, DVM, founder of the Foundation and a practicing veterinarian who specializes in laminitis and founder.

After viewing these videos you should have a good working knowledge of what laminitis is and the different pathways that lead to the disease. You will also learn what you should do if your horse develops laminitis as well as managing your horse if he has laminitis. You will also learn the most current information on how to prevent your horse from developing laminitis.

Taking the time (36min) to view these 5 videos may actually save your horse’s life.

Equine Laminitis 2012 Update

Part One: Introduction to Laminitis (1:30)

Part Two: Understanding Equine Laminitis (6:10)

Part Three: What Can You Do If Your Horse Has "Acute" Laminitis? (7:02)

Part Four: Chronic Laminitis and Founder (11:31)

Part Five: Prevent Laminitis in Your Horse (10:39)

View and share the Full Playlist from here: Equine Laminitis 2012 Update Playlist

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us! We hope you enjoy the videos and pass them on to anyone you think would benefit!