Some people use these terms interchangeably but they are actually two different conditions – founder being a possible result of laminitis.
Laminitis is an infection of the laminae (tissue) that connects the coffin bone and the hoof wall. Founder occurs when the laminae die, causing the attachment of the coffin bone to the hoof wall to breakdown completely.
There are several causes of laminitis and founder, including:
· Too much grain – overconsumption of carbohydrates
· Too much grass and/or grass clippings (aka grass founder)
· Drinking too much when overheated
· Repetitive and excessive concussion of the hooves (aka road founder)
· Exposure to black walnut shavings
· Repeated used of high doses of corticosteroids
· Typically the first tell-tale sign is the horse standing in the "founder stance" – where the horse stands with his hind legs well underneath his belly and his front legs out in front to relieve as much pressure from them as possible.
· The horse will be reluctant to walk
· Horse will turn by pivoting on the hind end rather than walk a full circle.
· Increased temperature in the affected hooves
· Doing your best to make the horse comfortable
o Encouraging them to lie down (relieves pressure on hoof)
o Extra stall bedding
· Purge the horse’s digestive tract to limit absorption of toxins
· Antibiotics to ward against infection
· Anticoagulants to improve blood flow to the hooves
· Dietary restrictions – especially for breeds that are predisposed to laminitis and founder (watch for horses with cresty necks and ponies)
· Keep your horse at a healthy weight
· Keep feed securely locked away to prevent binging
· Regulate water intake when horse is overheated (for example, after a hard workout).