Poor Hoof Integrity & Bounding Pulses Without Being IR?


Hi Everybody!

I have been working closely with the amazing Carol Layton to formulate a suitable nutrition plan for my OOTB, Con! She has inspired me to reach out to you all (As well as try to engage Dr. Kellon) in respect of Con's recent and first laminitis episode since owning him. 

Background Info: 

During February / March this year we experienced significant rain fall after an extremely dry summer. Naturally we had an influx of lush green grass as well as terribly soft and mushy hooves. Con pulled up lame in his right front hoof on the 16th of March 2020. During this time there had been no other significant change to routine or diet other than the rain and he was also not in work at this time therefore unlikely to be a work related injury (Photos of his mushy hooves during this are in my album along with his current condition at that time). I also feel it important to note that he had been grazing in the same 20 acre paddock everyday for 10 - 12 hours a day for over six months before his first laminitis episode. 

Con was seen by our vet on the 19th of March 2020. During her visit she found a lot of heat in all feet, a bounding digital pulse in all feet (however primarily stronger in the front), he was reluctant to move whatsoever and obviously very lame in his front right hoof. He also had that typical laminitis stance (leaning back into the hind end to remove weight from the front feet). Based on this, our vet diagnosed Con with laminitis noting the green lush grass as the cause. The treatment plan given to us was to put him in a dry paddock for one week with no access to grass and only to only feed him grassy hay during the day then be stabled at night with two biscuits of hay and his normal hard feed. We were also instructed to give him Bute twice a day (morning and night for a week). 

She then returned on the 26th of March to perform x-rays to check for any rotation of the coffin bone (x-rays also in my album). As you can see from the x-rays, there was minimal rotation with the only concern from her being his thin soles and minor navicular changes. You can also see that he rotates inwards quite a bit which she advised is unlikely able to be treated due to his age (15 years old). Her treatment plan post x-rays was to have Con shod in order to support his thin soles as well as muzzle him at all times when turned out onto grass to graze. She advised that Con did not meet the typical criteria of an IR horse and advised against blood tests. 

We actually ended up moving Con to a new agistment facility on the 29th of March where he is turned out 24 hours a day. We have since managed his laminitis from this time by utilising a grazing muzzle (for at least 22 hours of the day) however have not been using a muzzle since the 25th of May 2020 due to him having his two front incisors removed due to an unrelated dental issue exacerbated by muzzle use.

Going Forward:
Con has not displayed any lameness since his initial laminitis episode during the middle of March. The only way we have been able to monitor the recurrence of his laminitis is through his digital pulse. When wearing a grazing muzzle, Con usually only has a very mild pulse (sometimes not even palpable). When he is not wearing a muzzle his digital pulse varies greatly each day.He currently shares an 18 acre paddock between four horses. During the day they are kept in the top half of the paddock which has relatively dry grass grazing as well as access to a Rhodes grass round bale and at night they have access to the bottom part of the paddock which is still green and lush due to being rested over the summer. His digital pulse sometimes feels non-existent in the morning, then they're bounding by the afternoon then the next day he may only have a slight pulse in the front right foot and then nothing by the afternoon. There doesn't seem to be any consistency. There also isn't ever any heat or reluctance to move around. 

My two questions are:

  1. Is a raised digital pulse (with no other obvious laminitis like symptoms) an accurate way to judge if your horse is having a laminitis episode and can you have bounding pulses in a horse who is not IR?
  2. Could this one episode all boil down to his hoof integrity at the time? As stated above, I have uploaded photos into our album of his mushy hooves post rain (sorry I only have one photo) as well as photos of him post trim taken today for comparison purposes. You will see that we are still trying to grow out the damage done back in March. Important to note: I am not ruling out that Con is not IR as we haven't had a blood test done yet (however we are having one done in the next fortnight to rule this out for sure as well as having pasture tested). What I would like to know in the meantime is if bounding pulses are a common symptom if the cause of laminitis is hoof integrity vs IR
  3. I am also wondering if this more had to do with the nitrates / mycotoxins in the grass post heavy rain after an extended drought period as opposed to the sugar content of the grass.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my message. Look forward to hearing all of your thoughts on this!

Anjelica Robertson
Brisbane, Australia 
(Joined 2020)

Con's Photos

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