What it isAlso called laminitis, founder is an inflammation of the laminae of the hoof. Mostly the front hooves are affected, but in sever cases all four feet may get it. It is very painful to the horse.
CausesA lot of things may cause founder, but here are some of the most common types of founder, and causes:
2. Grass Founder
3. Water Founder
4. Road Founder
5. Postparturient Founder
6. Other Causes:
Some drugs may cause founder.
Early on, the horse's
trot may be stilted, and as the condition worsens, the walk too
may be stilted, and the horse will be reluctant to move. He may
stand with his hind feet up under his body, to take weight off the
front end. The front feet too may be set forward. Over the fetlock
joint, a throbbing pulse may be felt, and the hooves will usually
warm or hot. The sole of the hoof will be really tender and painful,
especially near the point of the frog. Anxiety and muscular trembling
due to pain will probably be seen. The horse's temperature and respiratory
rate will increase, and membranes may turn a brownish color. In
grain founder, symptoms may not occur until 12-18 hours after horse
has eaten feed, and diarrhea will probably develop. Rotation of
the coffin bone may occur in sever cases only 12 hours after injury
or ingestion of grain has occurred.
Chronic LaminitisDownward rotation of the coffin bone is usual, and in sever cases it may even push through the sole of the hoof, usually resulting in euthanasia of the horse. Rapid growth of the hoof wall is caused by chronic laminitis, and the horse's hooves may grow to be over 12 inches long, with a huge bend and a 'melted' appearance. Huge ridges will form on the hoof due to inflammatory changes at the coronet band. Affected animals will be in pain, and stand as mentioned above, to relieve themselves of some pain. Pulse and heat can be felt around the fetlock, and will show pain if tested with hoof testers. It is usually difficult to determine the cause of the founder.
Treatment of Acute LaminitisIf you suspect your horse has founder, call the vet IMMEADIATELY. Failure to do so may result in permanent damage to the horse, or even death.
If you find your horse foundered in a pasture, DO NOT move him if he won't agreeably go! Moving a foundered horse may worsen the problem and cause the coffin bone to rotate.
The treatment will vary
depending on severity and type of founder.
If a horse is going into shock from the pain, the vet may give intravenous fluids. Standing the horse in a cool stream or mud may relieve pain temporarily, but isn't a good idea because it slows the circulation, the opposite of what needs to happen. Soaking the hooves in warm water will help more by expanding the blood vessels and increasing circulation.
Allow the horse to lie down if he wishes.
Shoes should be removed, but only if the feet can be picked up without too much discomfort to the horse. If not, the nails may be cut with a sharp chisel or a hoof nipper, but DO NOT ever hammer on the horse's hoof unless the nerves have been blocked! Hammering on a foundered foot is a horrible form of torture, and not only will it be unbearably painful to the horse, it will only make the laminitis worse.
Your vet may prescribe mild exercise after painkillers have been administered, to help circulation. Grain should be eliminated from the horse's diet, and other oral drugs might be administered.
Other founders may be treated in other ways, but the most important thing to do is contact a vet as soon as possible.
Treatment of Chronic LaminitisIf rotation has occurred and the coffin bone has penetrated the sole of the hoof, usually nothing can be done. If the horse is restored, it probably will use all usefulness, but may be able to breed. Because of this, everything must be done to prevent the coffin bone from protruding. Chronic founder should be treated with regular care. The hooves should be trimmed as normally as possible, and much more often than normal. Frequent trimming helps keep the toe from growing too long, which would throw the foot off balance.
Corrective shoes may be needed, and the hoof might need to be shaped in such a way as too take pressure off of the coffin bone and to help prevent penetration.
Weight control is very important. Fat horses have less of a chance of recovery than normal weight. The more weight the horse is carrying, the more pressure on the hooves. Many foundered horses must have their diets controlled for the rest of their lives.
RecoveryHorses with founder may or may not recover fully to be useful again. Some will only recover enough to be used as broodmares. If symptoms persist for more than ten days, full recovery is unlikely. With some founders, such as those associated with hormonal imbalances, may last for more than a year without causing much pain or abnormalities to the hooves. Rotation of the coffin bone is unfavorable. If it penetrates the sole, it is unlikely the horse will recover, as infections of the laminae will probably result.
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