Grass Founder in Horse

Grass Founder in Horse: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Grass Founder in Horse, also known as laminitis, is a serious and painful condition that affects horse. It occurs when there is inflammation of the sensitive laminae within the hoof, leading to severe discomfort and lameness. This condition is often linked to dietary factors, particularly an overconsumption of lush, high-sugar grass. In this article, we will delve into the causes of grass founder, its symptoms, and most importantly, how to prevent and manage it.

What is Grass Founder?Understanding laminitis in horses.
Causes of Grass FounderFactors leading to the development of laminitis.
Dietary FactorsHigh-sugar and high-starch diet risks.
Metabolic DisordersInsulin resistance and Equine Metabolic Syndrome.
Endocrine DisordersCushing’s Disease (PPID) and laminitis.
Symptoms of Grass FounderRecognizing laminitis in horses.
LamenessPain and shifting weight as signs.
Increased Digital PulseDetecting inflammation through the digital pulse.
Reluctance to MoveSigns of laminitis-related discomfort.
Treatment OptionsManaging and preventing laminitis.
Dietary ManagementRestricting sugars and starches.
Proper Hoof CareRegular trimming and care for hoof health.
MedicationsUse of anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief.
ConclusionSummarizing the importance of prevention and care.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)Addressing common queries about laminitis.

What is Grass Founder?

Grass founder, or laminitis, is a condition where the sensitive laminae within a horse’s hooves become inflamed and painful. This condition can lead to lameness and, in severe cases, even the detachment of the hoof wall from the coffin bone. To comprehend the causes of grass founder, it’s essential to first understand what happens during laminitis.

Grass Founder in Horse

Understanding Laminitis

Laminitis occurs when the sensitive laminae, which act as a supportive structure between the hoof wall and the coffin bone, become inflamed and weakened. This inflammation results in severe pain for the horse and can cause lasting damage to their hooves.

Grass Founder in Horse

Causes of Grass Founder

1. Dietary Factors

Horses are natural grazers, but an abrupt change in diet, especially an excess intake of lush, high-sugar grass, can lead to an overload of carbohydrates. This surge in carbohydrates can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the horse’s digestive system, leading to an overproduction of lactic acid. This, in turn, can trigger inflammation in the hooves.

2. Obesity and Overweight

Just like in humans, being overweight can lead to a host of health problems for horses. Excessive weight puts extra strain on the hooves, which can increase the risk of laminitis. It’s crucial to monitor a horse’s weight and ensure they maintain a healthy body condition.

3. Metabolic Disorders

Certain metabolic disorders, such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and Cushing’s Disease (PPID), can predispose horses to laminitis. These disorders affect hormone regulation and can disrupt the metabolism of carbohydrates, making horses more susceptible to laminitis.

4. Grain Overload

Feeding horses an excessive amount of grain, especially if they aren’t accustomed to it, can overwhelm their digestive system. The rapid fermentation of grain in the gut can lead to an increase in lactic acid production, potentially triggering laminitis.

Symptoms of Grass Founder

Recognizing the signs of laminitis early is crucial for prompt intervention. Common symptoms include:

  • Reluctance to move: Horses with laminitis will often stand in a “founder stance,” where they shift their weight from foot to foot to alleviate pain.
  • Heat in hooves: Inflammation may cause the hooves to feel warm to the touch.
  • Increased digital pulse: An elevated digital pulse can be an indicator of laminitis.
  • Lameness: Horses may show signs of limping or reluctance to put weight on their affected hooves.

Preventing Grass Founder

1. Gradual Diet Changes

Avoid sudden switches in a horse’s diet, especially when transitioning from hay to lush pasture. Gradual introductions can allow the digestive system to adapt.

2. Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy body condition is paramount. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help avoid obesity.

3. Monitor for Metabolic Disorders

Keep an eye out for any signs of metabolic disorders and consult with a veterinarian for proper management.

4. Regular Hoof Care

Routine hoof trimming and maintenance can help prevent undue stress on the hooves.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery from grass founder can be a long and challenging process. It’s essential to follow your vet’s guidance and provide a supportive environment during the healing phase.

Case Studies

We will explore real-life case studies of horse who have successfully overcome grass founder and the strategies that led to their recovery.


Grass founder, or laminitis, is a condition that no horse owner wants their equine companion to suffer from. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and taking preventive measures, you can ensure the well-being of your horse. If, despite your best efforts, your horse does develop grass founder, timely intervention and proper management can make a significant difference in their quality of life.

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