Laminitis in horses is a devastating disease with many complicating factors. Finding the cause of the laminitis is only one challenge, then you have to deal with treating the laminitis and dealing with the damage done to the feet. Another issue that is not discussed as much is the moral aspects of treating laminitis in horses when they may potentially be in some pain for as long as they live.
I have come to a place of peace with this issue, having had a chronic case I owned myself, and I see many of my clients wrestling with it so I wanted to share my perspective.
Leggs was a 1/2 Arab gelding that was given to me because he had chronic laminitis. I worked with Leggs for 2 years and he lived at my clinic. Leggs taught me so much and because of him I finally realized the importance of anti oxidants in treating laminitis in horses. Leggs also taught so many things that didn’t work. I tried every shoeing of trimming method available and finally came to the realization that I would never be able to help him by focusing on his feet alone. Every day that I looked at Leggs hobble around I sent him a message that when he was ready I would be willing to let him go.
But Leggs continued to eat and appear quite happy. He had free run of the grounds and would occasionally try to actually come inside the clinic. He loved all the special care and attention he got. Leggs also tolerated every attempt I made to trim his feet and he ate all the various diets and supplements I offered him. For a chronic laminitis horse he seemed amazingly happy.
One morning, however, Leggs did not motor up for his breakfast. Before I even walked out to check on him I knew it was time for him to go. I am not your greatest animal communicator but Leggs told me so clearly that day that he was ready to go because I had learned all I was going to learn from him. He had completed his work on the earth and he was ready to go.
Looking back I now realize that Leggs was insulin resistant and that was why the anti oxidants helped him as much as they did. The high insulin levels drive inflammation and extra anti oxidants help to keep this inflammation under control. Because of other brave horses like Leggs we now know how to diagnose and control IR so laminits in many of these horses can be treated or prevented by strictly controlled low carb diets.
I tell all my clients who ask that horses will tell them when they are ready to go. Many come back to me and confirm that this is exactly what happened. Hard as it is to watch laminitis in horses, God has a plan and these horses are part of it. Madalyn
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