Spring has sprung so inevitably it’s time to talk about laminitis and founder! Spring grasses can cause many horses to tip over into founder. Because every horse is different it can sometimes be difficult to apply general information about holistic care to your horse. To make it a little easier for you, I’m going to talk about how the different five element personality types are affected by spring grasses and which are more likely to founder.*
Learn more about how to care for laminitic horses with our laminitis ebook.
If you’ve got a Wood horse watch out! These horses are prone to spring grass founder. They have very sensitive livers and are especially sensitive to toxins, so they have a hard time because lush spring grasses have a high fructan content that can cause endotoxins to be produced in the intestine. Plus, these horses generally suffer the most problems in the spring anyway. To help your Wood horse avoid laminitis, avoid toxins from sources such as vaccinations, dewormers or chemical fly sprays when grass is high in fructans. Consider feeding extra probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus to help you horse maintain as many healthy bacteria as possible in the gut, which reduces the growth of pathogens even with the higher sugar content.
Water horses have very sensitive kidneys, which are responsible for mineral metabolism, and suffer in the spring when they eat lush grasses that are high in water and sugar but low in minerals. To help prevent metabolic problems from mineral deficiencies, supplement your horse’s feed with free choice minerals from Advanced Biological Concepts (ABC). In the spring, Water horses especially need magnesium, which is important in carbohydrate metabolism. Consider top dressing your Water horse’s feed with ABC’s M Mix, which is high in magnesium. Powdered algae also provides a good source of many trace minerals to support hoof health in times of stress.
Spring isn’t particularly difficult for Earth horses except that these horses love to eat and tend to become overweight when pastures are lush. The weight gain alone creates mechanical damage in the hoof, which in turn often causes laminitis in otherwise healthy horses. To keep your Earth horse healthy put him on a strict diet. Keep him inside at least part of the day to limit grazing and offer plenty of hay plus a bit of rice bran to curb his appetite before turning him out on pasture. If you’re hay isn’t top quality, add some digestive enzymes into his feed as well. Unfortunately, some Earth horses will have to be kept off pasture most of the time, especially if they are already fat.
Fire horses, true to their nature, are quick to develop inflammation in their hooves. If your Fire horse shows even the slightest sign of lameness, take action immediately. Fire horses do not have to be fat to founder on grass. To prevent inflammation, give your Fire horse plenty of antioxidants. These include powdered algae, CoQ10, and algae with sprouts plus Tahitian Noni, all of which are natural products that have anti-inflammatory properties. If your horse develops even mild signs of laminitis, stand him in ice water until he is walking normally. With Fire horses, immediate action can produce fast positive results.
Although any horse can founder from too much grass, Metal horses are less prone than the other five element types. These horses tend to have very strong hoof walls that help resist the damage from endotoxins and can handle a little extra weight. To keep your Metal horse healthy this spring, just cut back on his feed and increase his exercise.
*Note: We use laminitis and founder interchangeably in this article, with founder being a layperson’s term for laminitis.
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