So the seminar I attended last night was very interesting. I got some time after the class to meet with the doctor and talk to him about my case a bit. Very nice man and was encouraging me to continue on my path, and 'go with what works.' It seems that with laminitis, there is still so much to learn and that not one specific method works with all horses. It's all about prevention. Great, but for us....we want more information on living with it. The class was definitely geared more towards obese horses and those pre-disposed for getting Cushings, but I still learned some helpful information. He did make a point of saying, as we people are getting more and more overweight, so are our horses, dogs, and other pets. I know many people feed out of love and we all hate seeing ribs on our horses, but some breeds (like mine) are just ribby animals and that is OK. He mentioned, as people, we like to see our own ribs but on our animals...NEVER. lol. I can attest to that.
I'm pretty sure below was the means of Lazarus getting his laminitis, as he is not overweight nor seemingly a horse that would develop Cushings. Although now, I think his body may be a bit more insulin resistant so I still have to be really careful about his feeding. His initial colic/fever may have been brought on by unknown ulcers, or a puncture in his gut, or Putomac, or salmonella, or who knows...
Glucocorticoid effects on the gastrointestinal tract
Both exogenously administered dexamethasone (DMSO) and increased release of endogenous GCs in times of stress increase the permeability of the mucosal lining of the entire gastrointestinal tract of laboratory animals.(53-56) Stress-associated increases in the permeability of the mucosal lining of the alimentary tract in humans have been shown to facilitate detrimental absorption of antigens, toxins, and other pro-inflammatory molecules from the gut lumen.(56)
Laminitis often arises in the face of intestinal disease in horses, suggesting that toxic factors of intestinal origin play an important role in its pathogenesis.(57) Administering either starch or fructans for the experimental induction of laminitis leads to both increased intestinal permeability and intestinal floral changes. Therefore conditions associated with excess GCs might also contribute to the risk of developing laminitis in horses by virtue of increased intestinal permeability and the absorption of toxic factors from the intestinal lumen
Grass and grazing was a topic that Dr. Schott talked a lot about in helping horses prevent laminitis due to ingesting to many soluble sugars. He compared grazing (for those that are NOT out of pasture 24/7) to releasing diabetics to a field full of candy bars. He mentioned that here in Michigan (S.E. area specifically) that if your horses isn't on pasture 24/7 and used to the grass changes, that keeping them off grazing from April to June 15th is the safest choice. They did studies showing if you are releasing the horses to graze even a few hours a day, they can and still ingest as much as if they were out all day. Shocking! Feeding them hay during these months is beneficial. Now that being said..this seminar was geared towards those dealing with Cushings, Laminitis, or obese horses, so it's not for EVERY horse I'm sure. There really is no rule that applies to all horses, I think, in nutrition. He mentioned that for keeping your pastures, never mow lower than a 6" height because you are creating higher sugar content for the grass and for turnout, see below.
Safest time to graze: early morning; after a night when the minimum temperature was above 40°F (5°C); on grass that is in a vegetative stage of growth (leaves, not heads) and the grass is under no stress from lack of water or nutrients. Under overcast or shaded conditions, sugar buildup should be slower. A long stretch of cloudy weather will further decrease NSC levels.
Most dangerous time to graze: late afternoon or early evening on a sunny day; grass that is heading or flowering; anytime throughout the day if the night before had temperatures below 40°F (5°C); grass that is stressed for lack of water or nutrients; stubble left from mowing or overgrazing, especially in late fall (or winter in areas where grass stays green)
The thing is to me, that I keep going back to. Is it better to control when/where your horses eat? Or better to have them on pasture 24/7 like their ancestors? He did mention in their studies; ponies on pasture 24/7 vs those only out for a few hours a day, had steadier sugar levels that didn't spike and drop.
What do you do with your horses where you board? I'm curious to see what the majority is around the US/world.
Dr. Schott also touched on feeding sweet feeds. He said no horse, no matter what their weight, should be given 4 lbs of sweet feed, a handful (less than a cup) is OK. He is a fan of senior feeds and L/S feed IF you need to supplement your horse with calories, but he said to do your research and talk to your vet about that because most pleasure horses we own, do not need the extra calories. They get plenty from their hay and grass. What I liked about this speaker, is that he wasn't 100% preachy on anything really. He used drugs on some of his horses that helped, and some he opted not to. He has some barefoot that do well and he has some shod that do well. He seemed to be open to learning and studying constantly about different options working differently for horses.
I enjoyed the seminar but at a couple points of the class I couldn't help but feel emotional. There were slides of horses with laminits from being obese and when they lost weight and were kept to their diet, they were ok. I can't really relate to those cases. Then there were slides of the very familiar scary hooves and growth patterns that I know all too well. What struck me is that he said "Now these horses are comfortable and can be ridden but will never be 100% normal again." That made me so sad for a good ten minutes and I literally almost wanted to walk out. Looking around, I could almost pick out the people that we so tuned in, that I'm sure had laminitic horses or horses that had Cushings. That was interesting...almost like a group therapy, lol!
So then I thought...'what is normal' anyway and who has a 'totally normal' horse, right?! So if they are comfortable, happy and being loved that is more than a lot of other horses get. I'm going out tonight to see my boy and groom up on him and love him up! (it's raining again, so I assume no walking)
A side note about the barn where I took the seminar at. It's your typical "WOW" barn. I drove into a beautifully landscaped entrance into a residential subdivision of beautiful homes that surround this lovely barn with a massive indoor and outdoor arena, stalls for about 40 horses and trails that back into the barn, into our amazing Michigan parks. The riders and their horses working in the outdoor, were gorgeous. All big Bays, healthy, cantering and strong riders working. It looked a lot like the places where I rode at growing up. I took a tour of the facility and couldn't help but think...we sooooo don't fit in here and it is by choice. The turnouts were so small and pure mud and far from the stables, so it must take 2 hours to get everyone out. It looked like kennels for horses. Turnout isn't long either, a few hours to several a day. Maybe that is enough for some, but for Laz, who has the choice of 24/7..it seems like too little time out. I'm sure there are a lot of happy people there with happy horses, but for us...it didn't strike me as where I would want him to live. The other big thing that struck me, is the girl who gave me the tour was smoking. I hate, HATE, when people smoke at barns. It's been a pet peeve of mine since I was little. I don't want to smell like an ashtray when I ride and I certainly don't want my horse getting 2nd hand smoke and I DO think it's a HUGE liability for a barn to allow smoking. My two cents..
The big plus is that it's 30 minutes from my house! Damn!! But..that was it for bonus factors. Anyway, they do offer a social membership that the BO and I are thinking of doing, and you get to use the facilities year round for $250 a year...we just have to trailer our horses there (about 30 minutes from her place). May be worth it come winter time! It's definitely a nice enough barn to use, I just like the fact that we can leave and go 'home.'