Reducing forces on the hoof wall - Veterinary Practice
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Reducing forces on the hoof wall

brings together recent comments about laminitis, its causes and treatment

ADJUSTING a laminitic horse’s
weight bearing plays a crucial role in
the animal’s recovery, Dr Debra
Ruffin Taylor of Auburn University
in Auburn, Alabama, told delegates
at the 2010 Western
Conference held in
Las Vegas earlier this

“I want to take
whatever corium
integrity that is left, and
I want to put it in a
situation to promote
healing,” she said. “But
I can’t do that with drugs
alone. I need to consider the

There are several mechanical
problems that could be addressed to
relieve some of the weight that the
horse was bearing down on injured

She suggested taking the horse off
hard ground and putting him on dry
sand or pea gravel. Dr Taylor said she
preferred small pea gravel to dry sand,
because the sand could get wet and
harden like cement.

If a horse with laminitis stands on
pea gravel or dry sand, he usually puts
his toe down into the gravel lower than
the heel, relieving some of the tension
in the deep flexor tendon.

“When they extend their elbow, they
are telling you that ‘deep flexor tension
is bothering me right now, and I have to
extend my elbow to escape it’. If you are winning over laminitis, they will quit
standing like that,” she continued.

Dr Taylor said she used impression
materials with shoes, hoof boots and
casts, and soft hoof pads under the boot, shoe or cast. Her
favourite padding
material is a wrestling
mat cut to the shape of
the foot: she will cut a
hole in the wrestling
mat under the tip of
the coffin bone to
relieve pressure on
regions with very thin

Many hoof care
systems for laminitic horses have common mechanics and each will
remove some (or all) of the forces on
the hoof wall. Some of these systems
also help decrease tension in the deep
flexor tendon.

A horse at risk for contralateral limb
laminitis needs to move so that he
occasionally steps off the sounder limb.
As soon as possible, he should be made
to take a few steps throughout the day.

“Even 10 steps four to six times a
day makes a big difference,” she said.
“When the horse is bearing his full
weight on a limb, there is no blood
flowing into that limb. Releasing the
weight-bearing increases blood flow.”

Another exercise that might help is
to rock the horse’s sound leg a little so
that it lifts up this foot or at least
releases the tension in the tendon, she

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