Whilst the growing problem of obesity amongst horses is one of the most well known causes of laminitis, it is not the only factor to be aware of.

causing health issues, this is one of many different types of problem your horse can experience. With nutritional deficiency and poor diet habits the main factor with a horse becoming overweight, conditions such as laminitis can still happen in a healthy horse. So, what are the non-nutritional causes of the disease? We take a look at other triggers of this painful condition.

Underlying or Past Medical Conditions

There is no such thing as the perfect horse, even if people try to find them, with even a seemingly healthy looking horse sometimes having underlying medical conditions. Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) can occur in younger horses where insulin levels are increased, both from hormonal reasons and from obesity. Your horse may not necessarily be overweight with high insulin levels, so checking any past medical conditions will help shed light on this. 

PPID aka Cushings Syndrome

Pituitary Pars Intermedia Disease (PPID) is a common disorder that affects  primarily  older horses and is often easily recognisable as those affected develop a long curly coat. The pituitary gland controls a number of functions in the body and the disruption to the hormones produced by the gland causes the horse to be predisposed to laminitis.  and also can cause high levels of cortisol. This will increase blood sugar levels similarly to EMS. If a horse has these conditions or has previously recovered from laminitis,  This means that it is it is even more crucial to ensure their horse feed is optimal and has a low sugar and starch level. Having said that, it is important to consider that sometimes, no matter how good the diet is, the changes to the horse are too much and laminitis can still occur. 

Concussion, Stress or Trauma

Severe trauma can cause laminitis as a secondary condition. Traumatic or concussive laminitis refers to a physical issue rather than one that is diet related. repeated trauma to a horse’s hooves. This can potentially occur from repetitive habits including being ridden on hard ground or during extended exercise such as endurance racing or it can be iding, for example as a result of excessive weight bearing. This is most common when an injury to the opposite limb means the horse takes more weight through the unaffected limb. This causes immense strain to the sensitive layers of tissue inside the hoof and over time can trigger laminitis even when a horse is at a perfectly good body weight. Another form of stress is dependent or overload laminitis, caused by too much weight being distributed unevenly across the four legs. Lameness in one hoof can be a contributing factor to this, highlighting the importance of having a qualified farrier to check the hooves regularly. 

Retained Placenta

There are some causes of laminitis that also are life-threatening conditions, such as if your horse has a retained placenta. After giving birth to a foal, the placenta will usually be expelled from the mare body, but in some cases, this doesn’t happen. If the placenta is retained it can lead to an infection, this can cause laminitis, such as septicaemia also known as blood poisoning which can cause a laminitis and is likely to be fatal and even death if not treated or diagnosed. The reason it causes laminitis is because of toxaemia, where bacteria releases toxins into the blood causing inflammation to the laminae. If a horse is suspected of having a retained placenta, this represents a medical emergency where your vet will need to check your horse immediately.

It is worth remembering that laminitis can affect any horse no matter its age or health, dependent on a number of factors. If their feed is nutritionally high in fibre with plenty of minerals and vitamins, this will avoidreduce the risk of obesity issue. If their hooves are correctly checked and maintained to ensure balance, and their stress levels, both emotionally and physically, are monitored and maintained, you can help ensure your horse can enjoy reduced risk to non-nutritional laminitis causes too.