It is good that there is so much information available and that we can exchange ideas with so many people. The downside, however, is that this can lead to contradictory and sometimes downright wrong advice. This is partly because the three different forms of laminitis (hormone-related, SIRS-related and traumatic laminitis) are often lumped together. Non-professionals and fellow horse owners are particularly prone to this. For example, as soon as you drop the L-word, magnesium is referred to as a panacea, even though your horse has SIRS-related laminitis following a persistent inflammation. Magnesium will do nothing for that. The focus on anticoagulants and anti-inflammatories for hormone-related laminitis is also one such example. With the best of intentions, people give advice without knowing the underlying cause. They have never seen the horse, do not know its medical history, and do not know what you have already done to improve its living conditions. When you give them this information, they either read over it in their enthusiasm or they see it too much through the lenses of their own experience. Garlic saved their horse from certain death, so every horse that suffers from laminitis should be put on garlic immediately.
It’s a good thing
The attention and involvement of facebook users and your riding buddies give you support in these difficult times when your horse is sick and in pain. That is very important. Moreover, different experiences can bring you ideas that you might not have thought of. However, it is advisable to use the knowledge and experience of professionals in the first place. The vet is the right person to turn to for diagnosis and medical treatment; the hoof care provider knows all about your horse’s hooves; a nutritionist can help you if your horse needs to lose weight or if supplements need to be given.
But not always
Unfortunately, there can also be differences of opinion between them. The saying ‘cobbler, stick to your last’ still applies here. If you have a good hoof care provider, trust that they know better than the vet how to trim the hooves. But don’t let the hoof care provider interpret X-rays or blood values. Of course, it works best if everyone who looks after your horse professionally is more or less on the same page. In the best case, they treat your horse in a multidisciplinary way and consult with each other. If there are too many differences between how they want to do things, discuss it with them. If you cannot work it out, it is best to find another professional to replace one of them.
And what if a professional is talking nonsense?
We all know the example of a vet who strongly recommended that a horse be put to sleep, which fortunately was not heeded. Years later, the horse is still happily trotting through the meadow in perfect health. The farrier who claimed that you would drive your horse to its death if you removed the therapeutic shoes. If only they could see your horse galloping down the gravel path today. Just because someone has been in a profession for many years does not mean that they are always right. They may have developed a blind spot for certain solutions or they may not have kept up with the latest insights in their field for some time. Convenience can also slip in. In that case, you are offered standard solutions. Horse with a cresty neck? Must be laminitic or else it will be soon. NSAIDs, stable rest and a pair of shoes will do the trick. Or perhaps someone is strongly convinced of a particular approach. A hoof care provider with 20 years’ experience will never recommend therapeutic shoes; their fellow farrier hardly knows how to spell ‘hoof boot’.
Get the right people for your horse
Don’t hold it against any of them, just make sure you get the right people for your horse. Right in the sense of experienced, knowledgeable, modern, curious and flexible. A civilised sized ego is also a plus. Now the opinions and experiences of the members of your favourite facebook groups and your riding buddies will come in handy. Ask them to also back up their opinions. Once you have brought in the right experts, there is little left for you to do to get the best out of everyone. Your horse will be very grateful.
Want to read more of these enlightening answers? The book “The laminitis answer book : over 200 question answered” is packed with them.