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Dr Chris Pollitt (University of Queensland) has conducted years of research into laminitis and has found it to be triggered by excessive ingestion of soluble and water-soluble carbohydrates such as starch or fructans. The feed the racehorse was eating at twelve pounds per day is full of starch and fructans. This is a very large amount of hard feed and results in a horse being unable to eat adequate amounts of fibre in the form of haylage to balance the gut.
After the laminae became weakened, through dietary upset, what happened next was the racehorse’s weight simply dropped the bone in the foot to the ground. The lower bone position, relative to the hoof capsule, caused a “flat foot” with the apex of the frog lacking depth within a solar dome. When the trainer telephoned us to say the racehorse was foot sore he volunteered the information that his foot had become flat and he had lost concavity. Our advice to the trainer to cut out the large amount of hard feed in his diet did result in the horse regaining some of his soundness within a week but not enough for the trainer to believe metal shoes were not necessary.
This video shows the racehorse striding out over stones. His jockey commented that when he hacked out he was no different to any of the other horses apart from the fact that he didn’t slip on the road. So why did he go foot sore?
Our belief is that over the following weeks, due to an increasing hard food diet, he suffered a carbohydrate over load which resulted in mild laminitis.
Although researchers are still figuring out all the reasons why laminitis happens they know for certain that water-soluble, carbohydrate over load weakens the lamina attachment between the hoof wall and the coffin bone and laminitis symptoms ensue.