Founder in horses

I talked to my student (and friend) today in class. (9/4/18) After talking to her, I made a few minor corrections in the original post. Also, I found out Ashlie's horse is named, Kidd.

It's a heart warming story.

I am going to keep this post fairly short, mainly because few of my followers may even have a horse and fewer still might have a horse with laminitis or a condition called founder. While you may not own a horse, and even if you don't, I trust you might find this interesting.

Horses can and do (on occasion) develop a condition commonly called founder. It is excruciatingly painful for the horse when it happens and you might want to call a large animal vet if it worsens from these first recommendations. I need to let you know I am not a veterinarian, but have seen laminitis occur just a few times. I am however an animal nutritionist and a professor at a college, teaching a class called Feeds and Feeding. Last year in my livestock nutrition class, a young lady named Ashlie claimed she had a horse with foot pain so severe that the horse didn't want to walk. When he did walk, he could only walk backwards. Founder is much more common in the horse's front feet, and that was the case with Ashlie's horse.

Ashlie is a knowledgeable student that is actually on a cattle ranch, so knew the basics of horse care, but her aunt had been feeding the horse. I have never had the pleasure of actually seeing the horse, but did recommend that Ashlie should research the horse's diet and see the level of carbs and what we might call sweets in his diet. Turns out, that the diet he was eating was bagged feed, high in molasses and also eating alfalfa hay. All stuff that horses love! The truth is, just like people, horses love sweets and feeds with higher carbs than they actually need. Also, most herbivore animals do their best on just good old grass pasture with fresh air, sunshine and a slight breeze. Plain old pasture and clean fresh water, is about all they need. We have quite a few wild horses and donkeys here in the west and their limited diets means they often get toughened and rarely or never get these kinds of disorders. Wild horses do get foot problems, but their problems usually result from lack of human care and old age.

So.... I advised Ashlie to cut the sweets and carbs out of Kidd's diet. I didn't say to completely cut them out, simply to do some research. I didn't see Ashlie all summer, but she is now enrolled in my Natural Resources class and she quickly approached me with a video on her smart phone. Ashlie was all smiles about a week ago, because her horse is walking nearly normal and is much happier. Nutritional problems DO NOT get better quickly. First the diet is fixed, and then the body slowly starts to repair itself.

You may not own a horse, but it's likely you're on this site because you have pets or some farm animals or chickens. Regardless, I hope you found this happy ending story a little bit interesting. Pardon the pun, but if I remember, I'll keep you posted as the horse heals!  Maybe you don't have a horse. But, if you have a pet like a dog, do not over feed him or her to the point of weight gain. To do so, just shortens their life expectancy.

Regards from Uncle Bill

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *