Following on from our recent post on social media about our beautiful pony that was foot sore, we wanted to go through some more details about the tips and tricks we have learned along the way.

Recapping the social post: About a week ago our beautiful pony was foot sore, and after a few days, we were concerned that the Spring Grass had affected his feet. Laminitis at this time of year in Australia is prevalent, and it is something that we are conscious of (especially with a heavy horse with a naturally cresty neck).

As soon as we realised this wasn’t muscle soreness from work, we put the Greenguard grazing muzzle on him. We really wanted to decrease his ability to access grass (particularly in the daytime).

The Greenguard grazing muzzle is an excellent tool to help reduce the amount of grass intake in the height of daytime grazing. What other things should you know?

  1. Digital Pulse – do you know how to take your horses digital pulse? Horses are just like us in some ways, when we have had a hard day on our feet, at the end of the day we have ‘throbbing feet’. The stress we put on our feet translates in to blood pumping to them – and the same with horses – the stress that laminitis puts on their feet firstly translates in to a ‘bounding digital pulse’. If you check this regularly, even in times of no laminitis signs, then you have a good base line to work from.
  2. Hard neck – the neck on a horse can be naturally cresty, and some horses are more prone than others, say a Shetland vs a thoroughbred. Our haflinger is cresty through the neck, so we check to ensure it is soft/wobbly, a sign of changes in your horse can be a hardening of the crest.
  3. Day time grazing – grasses create sugar during daylight hours, early morning hours (before 11) are ideal, and avoid grazing when grass has been in direct sunlight for long hours. If you can, use a Greenguard grazing muzzle for daytime grazing, or graze your horse at night.
  4. Ice therapy – if your horse is tender footed and you suspect a laminitic episode, icing the foot (you can stand them in a bucket of ice, or use an ice boot that comes to the coronet band. This will help reduce inflammation in the hoof and open the shunts which allowing toxins to exit.

The best advice you will get is from your Vet, these hints and tips do not cover everything, and each horse will be different.

When we had done all of these things and our horse was still sore, we sought out our vet immediately. While he was not displaying a hard neck or bounding digital pulse, we wanted to check every box and get expert advice. Luckily it was a case of being foot sore from extra work on abrasive surfaces (sand arena), and a set of new shoes has him back to normal!