29 August 2008 11:09
I own several native ponies and am careful about the amount of grass they are allowed in the autumn and springtime. Recently, one had a close shave with laminitis, despite virtually living in and being fed haylage described as being suitable for laminitic ponies.
I am suspicious of the batch of haylage, however, and would like to have it tested. How do I do this?
By Your Horse
Vet Gayle Hallowell replies:
The more research conducted on laminitis, the more questions are raised and, arguably, the less we know about its exact causes. Laminitis is a syndrome that can be triggered by many things, which may include:
● The amount of fructans and other simple sugars in grass.
● Excess carbohydrates (such as excess grain).
● Movement of bacterial by-products from the gut into the circulation (this may be diet- or disease-driven.)
● Differences in metabolism (metabolic syndrome).
● Excess weight on the feet (if a horse is lame on one leg and puts more weight on the other).
Different horses will metabolise food differently, just as we do. Therefore, I think it’s almost fruitless having your haylage analysed. You might like to call around a variety of feed companies for advice, instead.I realise you chose a brand of haylage suitable for laminitic ponies, but I’d question feeding something fairly energy-dense to this type of animal unless it is part of a dust-reducing management regime. Native ponies are notoriously good-doers and, therefore, good quality hay is often sufficient with little requirement for concentrates. It may not be the haylage itself that triggered the laminitis, but perhaps your pony’s guts can’t cope with changes in bacterial populations, or there’s simply too much energy in the food. There are also a few diseases that can trigger laminitis, such as Cushing’s disease. There may or may not be other clinical signs in the early stages and they are usually seen in older animals, but can also occur in horses and ponies as young as seven or eight.