This is a hard time of year for horses and ponies that suffer from laminitis. The grass is green and full of sugar and muzzling doesn’t always solve the problem. The cause of laminitis or founder is multi-factored, but an overload of starch into the hindgut leading to a microbial imbalance. Contributors can also be extra weight and hormonal interference from stored fat in the neck crest and stomach. However, it is possible for a skinny horse to also founder.
The role of nutrition to prevent a rise in insulin and the role of prebiotics have also been studied at length. A diet low in carbohydrates is important – this means a diet low in wheat as well as sugar since the glycemic response from modern wheat causes a higher spike than the glycemic response from molasses.
So what does one do? Well my thought is that the first step is challenging the microbes in the hind gut to survive. A daily dose of prebiotics to challenge the life style of these carb loving bacteria is key. I have seen many a horse come right out of founder with a daily prebiotic – one that is encapsulated and can survive the acid environment of the stomach which live cultures often cannot do.
There was a wonderful article in the Horse.com that talks about the hind gut flora of horses that had foundered and those who did not. The difference was in the range of microflora strains in the hindgut supporting digestion. The wider the range, the less chance of founder. Then there is the issue of acidosis in the hind gut.
Secondly, the issues of insulin resistance and weight have to be next. There are numerous articles on the benefits of feeding chromium both in humans and animals. Ionic chromium is the best form for rapid adsorption into the system. Mostly on the east coast, we don’t get enough of this element in our diets and it can go a long way to assist with insulin resistance symptoms. Of course a healthy diet for the horse is also important – one with out wheat and one that inspires the metabolism to work correctly to burn fat.
Davis, William, MD., Wheat Belly
Horse.com, Probiotics & Prebiotics