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Autumn Laminitis: All You Need To Know

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As the days start to get shorted and the grass starts to be turning, many can be tempted to turn laminitic ponies and horses out full time, as it seems safer to do so. However, this isn’t the case, unfortunately, due to an autumn flush. So, how can you help to prevent your horse or pony from getting autumn laminitis and what is it? Let’s take a close look, below. 

What Is An Autumn Flush? 

It is impossible to know what levels of WSCs (Water Soluble Carbohydrates) are contained in the grass, even once it seems to have gone off-color. In fact, grass can experience an autumn flush, which is a result of the perfect mix of warm soil from the summer months, combined with a sudden onset of autumn rain. This leads to the growth of leafy, thick grass that is packed full of water-soluble carbohydrates. In addition to this, warm sunny days that are followed by a drop in temperature can also be a problem. As grass is unable to grow in temperatures that are lower than 5 degrees, it means that the water-soluble carbohydrates produced during the days are unable to be used up overnight. In turn, this means that all sugar is allowed to build up, which your horse or pony will think tastes delicious! 

What Causes Laminitis and What Are The Signs? 

Laminitis can occur for a number of different reasons, including equine metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s disease, fillies and mares coming into the season, excessive weight-bearing, insulin resistance concussion, and another common cause is nutritionally induced laminitis, which is the result of carbohydrate overload. Laminitis literally means the inflammation of the laminae of the horse’s foot. It can affect one or all feet but is most commonly seen simultaneously in the front feet. 

There are many signs of the early onset of laminitis, which include an increase in the digital pulse along with resistance to moving forward. If you want to check your horse’s digital pulse, you need to place two fingers in front of the sesamoid bones at the level of the fetlock. A strong, bounding digital pulse is a sign of inflammation. A sign of acute laminitis includes shifting weight from left to right and lameness when turning your horse in small circles. Your horse will look like he is walking on eggshells. 

How Can You Help To Prevent Autumn Laminitis? 

You should continue to keep restricted by maintaining strip grazing, by using grazing muzzles, and using bare paddocks or even ménages. However, when the ground is frozen or the rain starts to pour, these areas can turn into frozen blocks or a mud bath. Therefore, you will need to provide your horse or pony with soaked hay/hay replacer.

Offer your horse a balanced diet, as through planned horse feed, you can help to ensure that they have everything they need to promote a healthy digestive system, hoof health, etc. If they can maintain their weight on just forage, you should opt for feeding them a balancer, as this ensures that your horse is getting the correct levels of vitamins and minerals, but without gaining excess weight. 

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with all you need to know about autumn laminitis and how you can try to prevent it. If you would like to find out more information, speak to an equine nutritionist or your vet.

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