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Are laminitis and founder a form of colic? I know there are a thousand ways to colic. Is founder curable or is it the beginning of the end? Is laminitis something that can go away in time?

A. G.


Parts of the foot "Colic" is simply an equine bellyache, and commonly causes laminitis, which in turn may trigger founder.

"Laminitis" is defined as "An inflammation of the laminated tissue [the "white line"] that attaches the hoof to the foot of a horse."

"Founder" comes from from a nautical term meaning "to sink" and refers to the downward rotation -- or "sinking" -- of the coffin bone when it separates from the laminae. "Laminitis" and "founder" are often used interchangeably, but that's not technically correct. A horse with laminitis may or may not founder, but a horse that founders does so because it has experienced laminitis.

The damage from laminitis and founder is never completely reversed, but some aspects can get much better. Biotin and other supplements can strengthen the hoof wall, white line, etc. The main key to preventing and repairing damage from founder is exercising the foot. Increasing the blood flow on the underside of the coffin bone will sometimes push the bone into a better position. A vet needs to be consulted early in the process, of course, but the more and the quicker you can stimulate the blood flow in the feet, the better the outlook is. If a case of colic is spotted at the beginning and the horse is kept walking, it's often possible to prevent laminitis and founder entirely.

Is founder the beginning of the end? Not necessarily. I bought Willy after he suffered a severe case of founder. It took about a year of various treatments, therapeutic trimming, a lot of exercise and a big dose of prayer before I was able to put a saddle on him, but we had 16 fun-filled years after that!

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