Nature–and horsepeople–abhor a vacuum. Because so little is known about laminitis, our natural inclination is to fill the treatment void with made-up remedies. But recent research has shown that these courses of action can actually hinder your horse’s recovery. Here are the four most common laminitis and founder old wives’ tales–and the veterinary reality behind each one.
Myth:“Walk him out of it.”
The reality: This remedy offered by some old-time horsemen may be fine for a pulled muscle, but today we know that for a horse with laminitis, forced exercise is one of the worst things you could do, because it increases the risk of permanent damage to the foot’s supportive structures.
Myth:“Dunk his feet in ice water, and leave ’em there till the ice melts.”
The reality: Although this may draw the heat out, it also may kill tissues already damaged from lack of blood supply, and it could cause spasming blood vessels to spasm longer.
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Myth:“If the coffin bone isn’t rotated in his X-rays, it’s not laminitis.”
The reality: There’s no rotation of the coffin bone in the first two stages of laminitis–it’s only in the third and final stage that rotation occurs. Its presence confirms the diagnosis, but its absence doesn’t negate it.
Myth:“Pour turpentine into a saucer, and hold it against the horse’s navel. It’ll suck it right up, and the founder’ll be gone.”
The reality: As outlandish as this treatment seems, people do still try it. Obviously, it doesn’t work.
Karen Hayes is a equine practitioner based in Idaho.
This article first appeared in the April 2000 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.