Laminitis is a hugely debilitating condition affecting many horses and ponies in the UK and beyond. The condition causes pain and lameness as changes to the internal structures of the hoof occur, this can cause the laminae tissues to become inflamed and weakened and in some cases results in the bond between the dermal and epidermal laminae to tear, allowing the pedal bone to drop or rotate.
Laminitis is typically thought of to be as a result of obesity as the disease can be particularly rife during periods of exposure to lush, spring pasture. Obesity can predispose an animal to laminitis, however research has shown that numerous other causes can also trigger the onset of laminitis including; trauma, stress, toxaemia, hormonal problems and sometimes the use of steroid drugs.
Despite the obvious need to reduce calorie intake for the overweight equine the additional causes of laminitis suggest that it is not simply “fat pony disease” and the old misconception that those at risk or those suffering from laminitis should be placed on a starvation diet can in fact be harmful. Although it is essential to restrict grazing in a laminitis sufferer it is crucial that the horse or pony receives ample low calorie forage in order to maintain a healthy, mobile digestive tract and for their diet to be supplemented with vitamins and minerals. This keeps our horses healthy ensuring a balanced diet, efficient digestive system, shiny coat, strong hooves and a strong immune system vital for their everyday health, and ensuring they can recover from challenges such as laminitis.
Horslyx provides the perfect solution to those horse owners wanting to feed a high fibre, low calorie diet that is complemented with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and trace elements, as the palatable lick provides these nutritional essentials without the need to add hard feed to the diet. This enables horse owners to keep calories to a minimum while still ensuring maximum health benefits!
Horslyx encourages horses to mirror their natural trickle feeding pattern of small amounts of food often. The dense formulation is difficult to bite or chew so horses will find it difficult to over indulge as licking their Horslyx will take time and patience. The molasses included in Horslyx provides a palatable carrier for the nutrients included in an easy to digest form and as the horse has evolved to efficiently digest sugar it provides a natural feed substance.
The trickle feed design of the lick provides a “little and often” exposure to calories allowing the nutrients included in Horslyx to be absorbed in the small intestine, maintaining the balance of the micro flora in the hind gut and reducing the risk of laminitis, colic and other digestive upsets.
But how do we introduce it into the diet safely?
Monitoring the intake of all horses, particularly those suffering from laminitis, is the key to safety when feeding Horslyx. Do not allow free access as a hungry horse is more likely to over-consume, so do not leave the Horslyx unattended to begin with as they may be hungry! Gradually increase the quantity of Horslyx provided to your horse or pony building up slowly to the recommended intake of 250g for the average 500kg horse in a 24 hour period (see feeding guidelinesfor more information). You can restrict the access either by physically removing the lick, or utilising the 5kg Holder with the Restrictor Bar fitted. And don’t worry; this recommended intake will only add 82.5g of sugar to your equine’s diet (about the same as your horse will get from eating 2 pounds of hay), which in human terms equates to around 2 teaspoons of sugar, less than is found in an average eating apple!
Laminitis isn’t all about diet, as management also plays a vital role in preventing its occurrence. Regular exercise is essential, as long as your horse is sound, and will help your horse to keep fit, healthy and trim. Aiming to keep your horse at a healthy weight through both diet and exercise will reap rewards for his wellbeing. Ideally, on a condition scoring chart from 0-5, a healthy fit horse should be approximately 3. If your horse is above that, it’s time to reassess his management. Stress can cause a multitude of problems so minimising stress levels to the best of your ability at your yard is important. If you have a “stressy” or nervous type choose surroundings, stabling and a working environment that suits them best to be calm, relaxed and succeed to the best of their ability.
When choosing a forage base to accompany your Horslyx, for those prone to weight gain and laminitis, it is advisable to select hay as opposed to haylage. Hay is generally lower in calories than haylage although this can be checked by analysis. Ideally choose hay of a lower nutritional value, but still clean and dust free, or mix clean straw with the hay to lower calorie content, but it is crucial not to significantly reduce the bulk included in the diet as lack of forage can lead to digestive upsets such as gastric ulcers and colic. It can be useful to soak your hay in order to reduce the sugar content within it. If a suitable hay is not available, then using a short chop fibre suitable as a hay replacer can be used.
Horslyx is available in four different formulations, Original, Respiratory, Garlic and Mobility providing a cost effective and simple way to balance any horse’s diet when introduced slowly and provided in moderation. The palatable licks contain a high specification comprehensive vitamin, mineral and trace element package alongside vital anti-oxidants to support the immune system, oil to benefit the skin and coat and biotin, zinc and methionine for healthy hooves perfectly complementing a forage based diet.
Disclaimer: If you have concerns your horse may be suffering from laminitis it is absolutely vital to contact your vet before implementing any changes to your feeding or management routine.