New horse share might have laminitis

(12 Posts)
AphraBane Fri 28-Feb-14 16:01:28

To start with: we're not in the UK and the local language is not English.

DD1 fell in love with one of the horses at her stables last month and persuaded us to let her take on a horse share instead of a weekly riding lesson on different horses. That means she's guaranteed rides on her horse twice a week. DD has been riding 7 years now so it's a good development for her to be working with a single horse. I don't know the size of the horse but I'd estimate between 15 and 16 hands.

A week ago the horse went slightly lame. Since then she hasn't been ridden at all apart from DD, who has twice been walking round with her for an hour. She shows no sign of discomfort at a walk but it's noticeable at a trot.

Dd has now been told it looks like 'Hufrehe' which I'd never heard of. Have just Googled it and that means laminitis - and I know that's bad. DD will find out more tomorrow about her treatment plan and hopefully we can get a prognosis.

We're not liable for any medical bills as the horse is still owned by the stables, but obviously we're still paying for this horse share (140 euros monthly) for a horse that might not be properly rideable for a while to come. Does anyone here have any experience of laminitis and how long it's liable to last? I've googled some horrible stories about how some horses don't recover and have to be put down sad. Any other questions we should be asking the stables at this point?

Unfortunately if it's laminitis, then while it is manageable through a careful feeding regime, it's incurable - essentially it's the equine form of diabetes. It also, despite management, can just pop up occasionally. It is not necessarily a career-ender though.

How old is the horse? I am guessing from the stables' reaction that he hasn't presented with it before?

From personal experience a friend's horse had this and, due to careful management, was probably out of action for a week or so maybe every six months, so depending on how quickly it's been caught then hopefully your daughter's share may be the same (or better!). She will need to learn how to recognise the symptoms though.

Bit more detailed overview from the BHS which should give you an idea of questions for the stables too.

Pixel Sat 01-Mar-14 00:14:42

Oh dear. Well for starters if the horse is still able to walk and look sound then it isn't a severe case, not yet anyway, but you are right to be worried as laminitis horses can deteriorate very quickly if not treated properly. If it gets bad enough to cause changes inside the foot (you may have seen dropped soles or rotated pedal bones mentioned when reading) then it would most likely mean the horse has to be destroyed.

If caught in the early stages the recovery can be quite quick so as long as the owners know what they are doing your share horse should be ok. Laminitis can be triggered by various things so you need to find out what it was in this case to prevent it happening again as the horse will probably be especially prone now. The most common cause is being overweight, being on feed/pasture that is too rich/too high in sugar, that sort of thing but there can be other triggers. Sometimes it can indicate another problem, for instance horses with cushings disease will be especially susceptible to laminitis.

As I said, if it is laminitis the fact that the horse still walks fine is a good sign, often they can barely stand up due to the pain and adopt a typical leaning backwards stance to try and relieve the pressure. No one should be riding until it is properly sound though.

I've seen quite a lot of laminitics over the years and tbh their future prospects do depend a lot on the vigilance of the owners. There is a woman near me who has lost four horses to laminitis and has still let her current horse get overweight and turns him out on rich grass. I really despair (we've actually fallen out over it now). We have a loan shetland who used to get it regularly but when we took her on we were determined she wouldn't get it again on our watch so to speak. She has been fine for about eight years now, so it can be managed if you stay on the ball.

You say your dd will find out more tomorrow, does that mean the vet is coming?

AphraBane Sat 01-Mar-14 12:07:13

Thanks to both of you for the answers - very useful, if not particularly welcome news. The fact that it's chronic is something we're really going to consider for the future. One week every six months wouldn't be such a problem, but it does make it difficult for her to think about competing in local competitions if we have no certainty about when the attacks will come.

After talking to DD last night she said what she was told on Thursday was that they 'strongly suspected' laminitis but that it had not yet been confirmed. Eh, why the heck hadn't they got a vet in already? My understanding is that someone will be there today who knows more, no idea if that's a vet. We're quite close to the local university equine clinic, so there are lots of horse vets around.

And if it's unwise to ride horses with laminitis, why was DD told she could ride at a walk for a week? I really need some answers to this today. DD is 15 so she generally goes to the stables by herself, but today we'll all go and try to find someone in charge.

We have no idea if this was her first attack. TBH, if she's had it before and the stables knew she had a chronic condition that could recur, I would be furious that we weren't told that before starting a contract. Bit of a coincidence that she gets this so shortly after we sign a contract. We'll have to look very closely at the terms - I think if the horse can't be ridden at all we have a right to another horse (which DD doesn't want as she gets on with this horse so well - they just clicked) or our money back, so that would be better than a situation where she can be ridden but only at a walk. And I wouldn't want us to be doing anything that would cause her pain, of course.

I'm wondering how it could be a feeding situation, as they have a lot of horses there and it's unlikely that one horse could be fed the wrong thing but others not. They have about 60 horses in total, all in individual stalls (so they can't steal each others' grub), mostly owned by the stables but some private with full livery. They have no access to grass pasture at all (paddocks are sand based) and the horse is definitely not overweight - she's 11 years old. Perhaps she's just more susceptible to normal feed and needs a special diet?

Thanks again, hope we get some good news later.

Pixel Sat 01-Mar-14 21:35:24

Mmm, well perhaps if she's not overweight, old, or on rich pasture then it isn't laminitis at all? They've only said 'it looks like it'. There are lots of other things that could cause the lameness you are describing but I still wouldn't ride a lame horse!

Agree with Pixel on the 'might not be' and on the 'don't ride lame horse'. Thing is though, it would depend on knowing the full history as to whether she'd picked laminitis somewhere else, before being sold to your yard - as they don't get grass turn-out/access to other's feed then it could be the problem's been accidentally managed and has now popped up for some reason which is why they are surprised.

I know we'd usually pick up on friend's horse v.quickly as he'd seem slightly 'pottery', rather than lame per se, when leading him out of the stable.

Do let us know the news, and hope it's positive.

Pixel Sun 02-Mar-14 18:41:23

You do get to know the signs so you can 'nip it in the bud'. If dshetland starts to look a bit iffy as she walks down the hill or gets puffiness over her eyes we know to be extra vigilant (there is also something to do with digital pulses but I confess I can never remember how to check that blush). The farrier found signs in her feet last year that she'd had a near miss but we obviously caught it in time as she never actually went lame.

Booboostoo Wed 05-Mar-14 10:10:59

Oh dear. I hope the stables have had the vet out already and had a proper diagnosis. A horse with laminitis should not be ridden, it should be kept in a deep bed, with low energy hay, ACP and bute. However, it could be many other things, so don't panic.

Horses can also get stress laminitis from work on hard ground, laminitis as a result of suppressed immune system (e.g. if the horse has had a viral infection recently) and also if they have Cushings Syndrome.

One thing to keep in mind with horses is that they are very delicate creatures who often have health problems. You can't guarrantee to have 2 rides a week from a specific horse - that's the problem with loaning and owning. If you book a lesson the riding school will have to find you a horse, but if you loan/own your horse may spend long periods of time off work for one reason or another.

AphraBane Wed 05-Mar-14 18:13:23

Thanks all for the extra replies, and yes, it turned out not to be laminitis at all, thank goodness. In fact, it was far more embarrassing than that - a rather silly case of Chinese whispers.

We went on Saturday to the stables and got hold of the Head of Stables for the first time, who looked rather bewildered when we started talking about laminitis, then banged her forehead and said 'oh, I bet it's because I was talking to the riding teacher and said that ridesharehorse was a bit lame in the same way that a horse with laminitis would be' Riding teacher interpreted that as 'horse probably has laminitis' and told that to DD, but Head of Stables had actually meant that it was merely a similar symptom. HoS looked utterly shocked at the very thought and confirmed that horse has never had any sign of laminitis and it would be very serious indeed and of course a horse with suspected laminitis would have immediate vetinary treatment and should not be ridden and needs an altered diet etc.

The poor horse was feeling better already on Saturday (although was clearly bored silly and desperate to go out for a ride) and was being treated with anti-inflammatories. HoS thinks the slight lameness was from a kick.

The only thing she mentioned as a potential health risk was that the horse's heels are naturally quite low, so there might be an increased risk of Hufrolle (apparently that is navicular disease). I appreciate her honesty, let's hope that doesn't become a real problem.

"if you loan/own your horse may spend long periods of time off work for one reason or another". That's what's becoming really clear to us now. I still think it was the right step to take as a natural development on from lessons, but without having the risk and expense of actually owning a horse. This laminitis scare has really changed our attitude though.

DD has just come back from her first ride since the horse has been declared sound again - seems she was pathetically thrilled to be trotting again (that applies to both of them actually).

Oh, great news.

Main thing about the scare is it's something else to know to ask about if you ever get to the buying stage. Have to say, it's worth spending a decent sum of money on a detailed vetting, rather than finding out later after you've spent several thousand on buying.

Hope DD continues for many happy years with either current horse or another one.

AphraBane Sat 29-Mar-14 20:50:05

Bad news update. Couldn't be worse really.

DHorse went lame again two weeks ago, and this time they got the vet straight in. Who diagnosed that the horse was henceforth permanently unrideable. Huh? Apparently it's still not laminitis but some other physiological weakness. The horse has had to leave the stables because she's taking up a stall sad, and on Friday she was taken to the local university horse clinic for a full examination to see how serious it really is (I think that means if she needs to be put down straight away because she's in pain or if she can at least be put out in a meadow for the rest of her life). We live nearby so DD is popping in tomorrow to find out more.
Under the terms of the contract that means we were able to cancel immediately, so that's not a problem at least. Obviously DD is devastated to have lost her dream horse so quickly, but we're also a bit peeved that the stables dealt with this whole issue in such a weird way and we're not keen to start another contract with them in a hurry (also DD didn't have enough scope to go for rides by herself outside of lessons, which after 8 years she feels well capable of doing). DD is looking elsewhere now and doing a few trial rides, and this time not only will we be aware of the health risks, but we'll also ask for a veterinary appraisal beforehand (at least to exclude pre-existing conditions). Thanks for all the help and advice a few weeks back, was much appreciated. It's been a big learning curve.

AphraBane Sat 29-Mar-14 20:51:30

oops, she's been riding 7 years not 8, in case anyone wants to pick me up on that...

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