The changes to the hoof capsule that happen after full-on laminitic event are well-known and easier to recognise. Lameness, in some cases severe and the angle changes to the pedal bone that you see in X-rays and depicted in the images on the left, are clear signs of laminitis. But did you miss the very first signs?
It is becoming clear that in the vast majority of cases, the laminitis progression is lengthy, and luckily, more and more hoof care professionals are beginning to recognise that the hoof problems photographed above are all possible early signs of lamintis.
Event lines are better known signs, but a stretched lamina, lamellar wedge, flared and disconnected hoof walls, thin sole over the tip of the pedal bone, bulging convex soles, compacted soles and high heels, seedy toe, frog infections and abscesses have to be considered and require professional attention and careful management.
Establishing whether the horse is insulin resistant or has PPID should be prioritised but you can start by adjusting the diet to a low sugar and starch diet, and providing sufficient exercise if your horse is still sound!
Many of these conditions are also perfect entrance points for fungi and bacteria, especially in warmer temperatures and standing in wet, dirty surfaces.
Remember that horses are very stoic and can mask low levels of pain. By the time they are lame, the laminitis can be extremely painful.
Learn to recognise the early signs so you can begin implementing a holistic management plan as soon as possible.