Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ice Boot Therapy and Laminitis


As an experienced horse owner, I know all too well the difficulties that one encounters when a horse goes down with laminitis, commonly known as founder. Other than a broken leg there is probably nothing that happens to our horses that forces everything to come to a halt until we can attempt to correct the problem. Through my own experience and research, and my talks with professional farriers, I have come to the conclusion that one of the first courses of action you should take at the onset of founder is to apply dry cold therapy to reduce the inflamation and ease the pain in your horse.

HOOF-it Technologies has collaborated with MacKinnon to create an ICE HORSE® product that has more than proven itself to be effective in treating the inflamatory phase of founder or laminitis, the Big Black Boot.

Laminitis is a painful condition of the feet. The disease is usually associated with digestive disturbances. The actual word laminitis means inflammation (itis) of the sensitive laminae of the foot. These laminae are the membranes which hold the bone of the foot (pedal bone) in place inside of the hoof. When laminitis occurs the laminae becomes inflamed. It is as if your horse has to stand on very badly bruised fingernails. The pain of laminitis must be similar to how we would feel after we accidentally slammed our fingers in a car door. However, it is much worse for our horse because he or she has to try to stand on the hurt hoof and take the pain, or in the worst case, go down.

Symptoms of laminitis include: rocking back on the haunches, lameness, reluctance to move, general stiffness, heat in the hoof, increased fetlock pulse, laminitic rings, sensitivity to hoof testers, and dropped soles. Laminitis most commonly affects the front feet, but cases occur in all of the hooves. Horses with laminitis stand in a characteristic way that lets you know the horse is trying to take weight off of their feet. In severe cases horses may constantly shift weight from one hoof to the other showing obvious discomfort. At some point the horse will go down so that no weight is on its feet.

Laminitis can start rapidly or slowly. I have walked into my barn and found a horse down with founder, lying in its stall and unable to rise due to the pain. Other times you may notice just a slight lameness and a little warmth in one or more hooves.

Generally, laminitis will start as an acute event. This means that it starts quite rapidly and causes a lot of pain. If such a condition is treated quickly it can be stopped in a reasonable time frame and be over in 10-14 days. If it is not treated quickly and effectively and if preventative measures are not used it can progress to become a chronic case. I have found the Big Black Boot ice treatment to be the perfect first treatment in acute cases of laminitis.

Chronic laminitis is a problem which drags on and on and never quite goes away. The horse in question has repeated mild attacks of founder and the feet are so affected that any change in diet brings on the problem again. A chronic laminitic horse may still suffer from acute attacks requiring immediate attention.

Cold therapy is the first recommendation for most acute or chronic injuries, including the localized heat, inflammation and swelling that occurs in laminitis. Standing your horse in cold water will help, but the water can be detrimental to the already traumatized hoof.

The ICE HORSE® Big Black Boot dry cold hoof therapy provides a safe way to get the vital first aid to your horse when he or she founders. If you are anything like me as a horse owner, you know that getting your animal out of pain and back to soundness are the most important things. I think that you will find that the Big Black Boot is an effective, easy to use, natural anti-inflamatory treatment for your foundered horse.

Dr. Daniel Montoya is a cowboy freelance writer who is doing research for HOOF-it Equine. Let him know if you have any questions about using the Big Black Boot. You can comment on this post or contact him at danny@hoof-it.com