Laminitis

Twister doesn’t get mentioned all that often here on the blog. He’s Jen’s horse, not mine. But he’s been living here for 11 years, so he’s definitely a member of the family. He was (for those of you who remember the orphan foal) the good little babysitter gelding who mothered Reno. He is a 3/4 Arab 1/4 Saddlebred. All black, very cute.

Uncle Twister, taking care of Reno
Uncle Twister, taking care of Reno

Twister foundered today. Again. Laminitis (aka founder) is a life-threatening condition for horses (it causes catastrophic inflammation in the feet). Luckily, I think Jen caught it early. He can still walk, he’s just sore and reluctant, with a strong digital pulse. But Jen is beside herself with worry. Twister himself is in surprisingly good cheer, considering he’s barely able to move. He still managed to cause a bit of trouble out in the barn (stealing Dressy’s hay, trying to tip the wheelbarrow over). His heart rate is fairly normal and he’s not sweating or rocked way back. So although he’s hurting, it’s not severe. He’s on bute to bring down the inflammation.

The vet pulled blood on him, and is sending it out for testing (Cushings, IR, etc.). That’s going to take about a week for results to come back since it has to go to California. In the last year or so, he’s grown a tremendously thick hairy coat (like a Yak) and has been slow to shed out in spring. Which is one of the symptoms of Cushings. We always thought he was IR (insulin resistant) and he may be, but it’s possible that he may instead (or also) have Cushings. The vet is putting him on Pergolide (for Cushings) without waiting for test results just to see if it helps him.

Twister has been drylotted with a calorie-restricted, low-sugar diet for nearly his whole life. He’s been okay for quite a few years, so we thought we had his metabolic issues under control. But it looks like we are going to have to get even more strict and vigilant in managing his diet. Poor guy.

The vet tells me that he’s seen 4 or 5 cases of founder just in the last month or two. Which is very odd in the midst of winter. I sort of wonder if perhaps the drought that drastically reduced Ontario’s hay crop last summer also stressed the grass enough to put the sugar levels way up? I haven’t tested our current hay, because we have had a lot of different batches this winter. We are soaking it to lower the sugar levels. And Jen has been researching all day to see what else we can do for him.

Anyway, fingers crossed that Twister bounces back quickly.

3 Replies to “Laminitis”

  1. Twister is one of the coolest horses I have ever met. I still can’t believe how fantastic he was with Reno, I wish I had documented their story since I’m sure there’s a best seller in there somewhere.

    Hope you feel better soon big guy.

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