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After reading your explanation on founder I have one more question. Please forgive me if this sounds ignorant.

How can a horse have problems with laminitis if it gets too much of a certain food? I guess the real question is what do foot and leg issues have to do with food? Or is it just the nature of the beast, because you hear, "No feet, no horse." Their feed intake (besides hard work, etc...) can actually have an impact on their hooves and bone? Can you explain the correlation here?

Thank You,

A. G.


Wow, excellent question! If you can get to the point of fully explaining what happens with feed-caused founder, you'll have the makings of a great doctoral dissertation! Veterinarians can only describe the situation as a "mystery," and there is a lot of controversy surrounding the various theories in this area.

The best explanation I've come up with so far runs like this:
When a horse gets a bellyache it's because it has too much of something harmful in its system. For example, eating too much fresh grass can cause it to have an excess of nitrate. Since a horse doesn't have the ability to throw up, the toxin will stay in the horse's system until it is eventually burned up by the body's metabolism or eliminated in either manure or urine. In the case of elimination in urine, the toxin has to be absorbed by the blood, then taken to the kidneys, where the poison is removed from the blood.

When a toxin is absorbed into the bloodstream, much of that blood will circulate out to the ends of the legs, where blood flow tends to get very sluggish. At that point, the feet have plenty of time to absorb the poison. That affects the laminae of the hoof -- which can produce a case of founder.

This, of course, is an overly simplified explanation, but it covers the basics. Vets are not in total agreement about this theory, but in my experience it seems to hold true. Walking a colicked horse improves the blood flow -- especially in the feet -- and helps to speed the elimination of whatever was making the horse sick. Even the vets who don't accept the scenario I outlined above do generally agree on the importance of walking a horse with colic.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it... at least until you or some other sharp-minded individual can come up with a better explanation. If and when you do, please let me know; I'm always happy to learn more about our equine friends.

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