Foundering is a condition that affects the hooves of horses and other equine animals. It occurs when the laminae, which is a network of delicate fibers that attach the coffin bone to the hoof wall, become inflamed and damaged. The result is an increased amount of pressure on the coffin bone, which can cause severe pain, lameness, and potentially long-term damage if not treated properly.
What Causes Foundering?
The exact causes of foundering are not fully understood, however, there are several factors known to increase the risk of a horse developing this condition. These include:
- Genetics – Horses with certain genetic predispositions may be more likely to develop foundering than others.
- Nutritional Imbalances – Feeding a horse an unbalanced diet, or one that contains too much grain and not enough roughage, can increase the risk of foundering.
- Excessive Work – Horses that are worked too hard or too often can be at an increased risk of foundering.
- Lameness – Horses that have existing lameness issues are more likely to develop foundering.
- Hoof Confirmation – Horses with certain hoof conformations, such as those with long toes, are more likely to develop foundering.
Signs and Symptoms of Foundering
Foundering can be difficult to detect, however, there are several common signs and symptoms that can indicate that a horse may have the condition. These include:
- Lameness – Horses with foundering will often exhibit signs of lameness, such as difficulty walking, an uneven gait, or an unwillingness to move.
- Pain – Foundered horses may exhibit signs of pain when their hooves are touched or manipulated.
- Hoof Changes – The hooves of horses with foundering will often appear misshapen, thickened, and/or discolored.
- Poor Appetite – Horses with foundering may have a reduced appetite, which can lead to a decrease in weight.
- Fever – Foundered horses may develop a fever, which is a sign of inflammation.
In order to accurately diagnose foundering, a veterinarian will need to perform a physical examination of the horse and collect a detailed medical history. The veterinarian will also likely take x-rays to assess the condition of the hooves and look for any signs of abnormality. If foundering is suspected, the veterinarian may also collect blood samples to check for any underlying health issues that may be contributing to the condition.
The treatment of foundering will depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. It is important to note that foundering can be a serious, long-term condition and requires ongoing management. Common treatments for foundering include:
- Rest – Foundered horses should be given plenty of rest to allow their hooves to heal properly.
- Medication – Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Diet – A balanced diet is important for horses with foundering. It should be low in sugar and starches and high in fiber.
- Hoof Care – Foundered horses should have their hooves trimmed and balanced regularly to help promote healing.
- Supplements – Certain supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, may be beneficial for horses with foundering.
The best way to prevent foundering is to ensure that your horse is receiving proper nutrition, exercise, and hoof care. A balanced diet that is low in sugar and starches and high in fiber is important for preventing foundering. Additionally, horses should be exercised regularly, but not too strenuously. Finally, it is important to have your horse’s hooves trimmed and balanced on a regular basis to ensure they are healthy and free of any abnormalities.
When to Call the Vet
If you suspect that your horse has foundering, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away. Foundering can be a serious condition that can lead to long-term damage if left untreated. Your veterinarian will be able to perform a physical examination and take x-rays to assess the condition of your horse’s hooves. They will also be able to recommend a course of treatment to help manage the condition.
Long-Term Management of Foundering
Foundering is a long-term condition that requires ongoing management. To ensure that your horse remains healthy and comfortable, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for treatment and management. This may include regular rest, a balanced diet, hoof care, and anti-inflammatory medications.
How to Tell if a Horse Has Been Foundered
If your horse is exhibiting any of the signs and symptoms of foundering, such as lameness, pain, hoof changes, or a reduced appetite, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the condition and recommend a course of treatment to help manage it.
Foundering is a serious condition that can lead to long-term damage if not treated properly. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of foundering so that you can take action if you suspect your horse may have the condition. If you suspect your horse has foundering, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away. They will be able to diagnose the condition and recommend a course of treatment to help manage it.