Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Prevent Laminitis, Rule #1: Video Evidence Why Horses Are at Risk

Mariska the Friesian is not acting, she is just doing her mischievous best to get to where she wants to be--in the feed room. But sometimes that can get a horse in a lot of trouble--like laminitis!

Whenever the Animal Health Foundation presents a program on laminitis prevention, you will always hear Dr. Walsh say that there is one very simple thing that all horse owners can do to prevent laminitis.

You might think he's about to prescribe a new medication, or a pasture plan or a high-tech pair of horseshoes. But he's not.

In his best James Herriott voice he admonishes, "Each and every one of you should go home and put a lock on the door to your grain rooms."

And he's right, of course.

Feeding Time at Fort Myer
Horses know the routine. They also know where the grain lives.
The type of laminitis caused by a horse's midnight feast on grain is known as "grain overload". This can be a very serious form of laminitis--and it is totally preventable.

Veterinarians often get phone calls from worried horse owners who say, "Bobo got loose in the night and broke into the grain room!" The vet knows that the risk of laminitis is suddenly very real, and that time is of the essence, if the horse ate a sizable quantity or if was already at risk for laminitis. 

The vet also knows that the horse's binge could have been prevented.

The worst calls, the ones that vets really dread, is "She got into the grain again."

If your horse ever gets into the grain, call your vet immediately. She or he will give you instructions of what to do, both for potential colic and laminitis prevention. Follow those instructions, and say a little prayer.

But today is the ideal day to check all the latches and locks on your horses' stalls and gates, and particularly the lock on your grain room door. Make sure it isn't a flimsy door, either, because horses can be destructive burglars. 

This is especially true of barns that portion out feed buckets at night for ease of feeding in the morning. The horses can probably smell the grain, especially if it's sweet feed. Keep grain in a bin with a latch. If you have to portion feed in advance, try to use buckets that stack inside each other, and put them into a latched bin.

We all need to protect our horses from their own appetites--and their curiosity!
As for Mariska, all's well that ends well. The feed room is now carefully locked and, in fact, all the locks and latches on the Misty Meadows Farm have been replaced so Mariska's mischief days are over...unless someone forgets! To think her owners put the grain in the freezer, thinking it would be safe!

Thanks very much to Sandy Bonem of Midland Michigan, for both making the video and sharing it, and giving up so much follow-up information. We're glad that Mariska and her friends are both beautiful and smart, and hope that we'll see another video in the future.

Be sure to read the followup blog post about Mariska and the popularity of this video, which has now been viewed over 600,000 times.

Barn aisle photo by Paul Shillinger. Horse in stall by Amanda Tipton.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year of Laminitis Research and Exciting Discoveries

The Animal Health Foundation Will Support Your
Horses' Health Through Laminitis Research in 2013...

Will You Support the Foundation's Laminitis Research In Return?

The challenge of laminitis is bigger than any of us, but it's not bigger than all of us.

Please end your old year begin your new year by funding research that benefits horses who have laminitis today, and that will prevent future horses from getting laminitis in the first place.

Laminitis research through the Animal Health Foundation attacks the disease on many levels, from the most high-tech science to simplifying insulin resistance testing. We're fighting laminitis in the laboratory, in the vet hospitals, in the shoeing shops and--most of all--in your barn. And your neighbor's barn.

But AHF doesn't stop there.

Soon, horse owners and veterinarians will work together to test 
horses for insulin resistance, a common risk indicator 
for laminitis, with a simple, inexpensive test currently 
in research by the AHF. 

Our research is affecting what goes on in the feed store--and the seed store, too. On the hay truck. In that bucket of supplements you just ordered, or the contents of the horse treats you just stuffed in your pocket.

The Animal Health Foundation attacks laminitis on all these fronts because everywhere we look, we see laminitis that could have been prevented--if we'd only known a year or two ago what we know now, thanks to the funds that you have put into the study of this terrible disease.

Did your horse have laminitis in 2012? 
The work of the Animal Health Foundation means that
the chance of your horse having laminitis in 2013 has been reduced. 

As you know, laminitis affects horses of all ages and all breeds and you only have to visit an auction or horse rescue farm to see how many unwanted horses have come to these places because of either active laminitis or evidence of a history of the disease. 

No matter how large or small your donation may be, your dollars will get you involved in the forward progress of our work to stop laminitis. We can do so much more for horses, with your help. 

Today's the day, and the champagne will taste much sweeter 
(or drier, depending on your vintage) if you know 
you ended your year on a horse-helpful note. 

Please contact AHF if you'd like to know more specific information about our future research projects that are in need of funding support and remember that your donations--large and small--have made a huge difference in fighting this disease in the past and will in the future, as well.

P.S. Be sure to sign up for the Animal Health Foundation's email newsletter to receive the latest news; the box is in the upper right corner of this web page.

Follow AHF on Twitter, too. 

And have you had a chance to "like" our Facebook page yet?