You may have seen the many social media posts in the last week or so about the huge surge in reported laminitis cases in recent weeks so we thought we would remind you of the subtle signs that your horse or pony may be on the edge!

This year we had an exceptionally mild winter meaning horses and ponies wintered well and in many cases too well! In the wild ponies during the winter months would use their fat reserves built up over the summer to help them survive over the colder winter months. However in a modern domestic situation we turn our ponies out on managed pasture that in mild winter conditions just keeps growing and remains very nutritious meaning horses and ponies don’t have the opportunity to lose their summer waistlines’ and that’s even before we reach for the cozy rugs!!

Here at Spillers HQ we feel your pain, I’ve had to buy a bigger girth for my rather chubby Welsh Cob, Bella has designed a track system to tackle what she terms the ‘obesity crisis’ and India is having to keep her ‘very well’ horses in for some of the day.

But we mustn’t bury our heads in the sand (I need to get Missy back into her normal girth ASAP!) because laminitis can affect any horse or pony not just the stereotypical ‘Thelwell’ type. This year there have been more reports of horses getting struck down by this horrible condition which in horses can be more difficult to manage as their larger bodyweight can mean more pedal bone rotation.

So the advice from vets is firstly do everything you can to prevent laminitis occurring in the first place (see our weight loss tips blog) but also look for the subtle signs and deal with them quickly by getting veterinary advice before there are radical changes in the hoof and subsequent pedal bone rotation.

Look out for the following subtle signs:

-Reluctance to turn and when they do they look sore and uncomfortable

-A shortened pottery gait

-Lying down more often

-Change in their normal behaviour and temperament for example not coming over when you call them if they usually do

-Not wanting to pick their feet up especially the front ones

-Shifting weight from one foot to the other

-Finding it uncomfortable to walk on stony ground

-Excessive heat in their feet

-A strong pounding digital pulse (this can be felt just underneath the fetlock joint usually on the inside of the leg)

If you notice one or more of these signs remove your horse or pony from his/her grazing and seek immediate veterinary advice as leaving it could result in more damage which will be harder and take longer to treat.

For more advice on slimming your horse or pony down, reducing the risk of laminitis or feeding a pony with laminitis please call our Care-Line on 01908 226626.