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 The tough journey back from laminitis with a large horse.

Emily’s 16.3hh mare “Nellie” came down with laminitis 2 years ago.

Nellie had been grazing heavily fertilised ‘improved’ pasture which Emily of course now realises was a mistake but at the time didn’t think would be a problem as it was ‘winter’ grass.

Emily’s story contains valuable lessons that she is happy for us to share in the hope it may help other people who may be struggling. While it was an excellent outcome for Nellie, the whole recovery was far from quick and easy, it had its ups and downs. These included a relapse due to clover in the hay – switching to clover-free hay made an immediate difference.

X-rays subsequent to the relapse revealed serious rotation in both front hooves. Worse than that, the pedal bone was just 2mm away from penetrating the sole. Emily was given a grim prognosis by 2 separate veterinarians who both said words to the effect there was ‘NO WAY she would come back from this’ so should be pts.

Fortunately Emily was very committed and once set up with the right environment and suitable nutrition, Nellie was able to turn the corner and eventually grow down a whole new hoof capsule with great connection. Nellie is now fully functioning and even jumping (see the photo taken on Sunday).

Emily had originally contacted us after 3 weeks because what she had been doing didn’t seem to be working. Nellie was still very sore.

We called Emily to thoroughly discuss Nellie’s whole management:

Emily said ALL these actions contributed to Nellie’s recovery:

- Making a 100% grass-free pen which included soft bedding so Nellie felt comfortable to lie down a LOT, which she did for around 5 months. While the horse is laying down there is zero weight or stress on the damaged laminae which facilitates healing.

  • Using hoof boots - the relief was visible as soon as these were put on

  • Non-clover hay (Lucerne also a no-no), soaked and in a small-mesh hay-net. Then Nellie started to lose some weight. She wasn’t obese but being on a weight loss trajectory helps recovery.

  • To be ‘on patrol’ for ANY green shoots appearing in her dry lot.

  • Emily dissolved and syringed in SOS & Premium MVA multiple times a day for several weeks so she had nutrients supplied but no calories, spread throughout the day. Nellie had a tiny feed of ‘straw chaff’ to deliver the bute (we have had the straw chaff analysed and there is ‘nothing’ of nutritional value in it).

Now that the new hoof capsule has had time to grow down and Nellie has made a FULL recovery Emily said:


Yesterday Nellie, who has just turned 14, travelled to Christchurch to compete in an ODE with my niece. What a success story - everyone has been telling me it’s a miracle but I keep saying no - it’s the Calm Healthy Horses ladies and their supplements that saved her life! Yes, please share my mares story. Thank you so much!”


Nellie was fortunate to have a committed owner like Emily who stuck it out through thick and thin. These cases don’t always have such a happy ending and there are some where euthanasia is undoubtedly the humane option.

It certainly is a challenge with large horses due to the sheer physical stress of the horse’s weight on the damaged, inflamed lamellar tissues. When you consider that 65% of the weight is on the front legs, for a large horse like Nellie who weighs a good 650kgs x 65% = 422kgs, that’s 211kgs on each front hoof (multiplied by forces of movement)! A very good reason never to force movement when a horse is in crisis phase of a laminitis episode.

And best to keep following our FB page for ongoing education about all aspects of grass, how it can affect your horse and how to manage it to avoid any adverse effects on his health, movement and behaviour!

Nellie in this video is on the road to recovery - note the lovely soft living area - essential for their comfort to promote bone column support along with encouraging them to lie down a lot.


Nellie's New Hooves!

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