Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Laminitis

Julia Cunniffe

Hello Everyone,

I have just joined the group and not yet had chance to read thru the previous conversations, so I apologise if this information is already here.

I have a miniature Shetland with EMS who I have been managing for several years, and on the whole is well and happy. I hope to find more information on improving his management when i read thru the information on this group.

My current concern tho is my 10 year old Selle Francais Mare, Jazz, who I have recently been told has Laminitis. I am still not totally convinced by the diagnosis, and I'm afraid I don't have a lot of faith in my vets, who have little interest in metabolic issues. 

Jazz has had intermittent lameness for over a month now. It has varied from looking footy, to shouldery, but has consistently been the right fore. She is rather a challenging character, having been an orphan, and lives out on a track, with a 4 year old gelding, around the track of my 2 mini's. Atm the track is deep in mud, wet and slippery, but since the Laminitis diagnosis I have not felt able to allow them on the grass of the other field, which is how I would normally manage them at this time of year.

During the summer months Jazz has bulges over her eyes and swelling between her jaw. She had a very muscular crest this year having been doing a lot of Straightness Training, and on the whole looked quite large, not helped by her low slung belly, but does not generally have other fat pads. I have erred towards assuming she is likely to be predisposed to Metabolic problems and managed her on a low sugar diet, lots of hay, minimal grass when sugars likely to be high, low sugar feeds, and on the track. She has never had any episodes of laminitis previously, has had event-lines on her hooves corresponding to those of my previous gelding who also did not experience laminitis, and has always been barefoot.

Her lameness started towards the end of November. mainly in trot and most obvious on the hard, wet sand surface of the round pen or the road. I had always struggled to feel pulses, so do not know her 'normal' pulse, but am getting good at finding them now. The vet looked for signs of an abscess,but Jazz was very reactive to hoof-testers on both front feet, inconsistently according to the vet, although to me she appeared to react to everything...she is very sensitive to touch generally, doesn't like it, and can be very uncooperative. In the light of palpable pulses both fronts, and looking slightly sensitive on a tight circle on the road on both fronts (surface of gravel on tarmac ad horses have been on soft wet surface of field now some many weeks...so again I'm not altogether convinced) and being unable to spot anything else, they diagnosed Laminitis. At her most sore she has stood with her right sore out in front of her, but only on one day, has not been lying down excessively. I kept her in stable with tiny yard area for 48 hours but she then began rearing so i let her back out on the track which is very soft atm.

The track has almost negligible grass on it, yet her pulses remain variable from unpalpable, to strong, sometimes on all 4 feet(never strong behind but sometimes easy to feel). The only day I allowed them access to the old grass of the back field, on a low Laminitis risk day, she later had stronger pulses and looked a little more footy again, so I have kept them off it since. 

She is unrugged, and not carrying any excess weight, looks very slim for her. We have not been having much sunshine, or much frost. What grass we have has continued to grow due to unseasonably warm weather. My vets tell me they are not getting lots of new cases of Laminitis at the moment.

While talking to Sarah Braithwaite at Forageplus earlier this week, about getting some Hay, Grass and Soil Analysis done she mentioned the possibility of PCOS. I had wondered whether hormones may have been playing a part in her symptoms, as she appears to have been in season much more visibly this year, and much more frequently. She was previously in with a older gelding, but after losing him has been with a vibrant 4 year old since May. She has always been a very dramatic, sensitive moody horse. During riding she often, ever since backing bites at my right leg where it rests against her side, and has had on ongoing back issue(tender lower back and wasting around trapezious) for a few years which has almost, but not absolutely resolved with Straightness Training which has created a lot more muscle and better carriage. We have more recently begun working on calmness,  and releasing muscle tensions and doing more ground work with softness again with less riding, and it is since beginning this that the lameness has come to the fore.

I apologise if i have included too much information here, but tbh I am baffled by Jazzes condition atm. Part of me is thinking that she is releasing old tensions and pains from previous injury's(she had a right shoulder/neck injury in France before travelling to England age 4, and also had a fall and got stuck under the trailer partition, later presenting as if she had a right brachial plexus lesion a few years ago, but this resolved quickly and apparently fully with rest and bodywork). However,  if she does have Laminitis, obviously i need to try and find the root cause asap. I can't believe it can be purely sugar related in view of her lifestyle, and a hormonal link would make sense in view of other characteristics...so any advice on how to proceed from here would be enormously appreciated. 

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