Shuck-e-durn, we have founder

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Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2003
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Muncie, Indiana
Have one who has foundered, and is pretty bad.

Have taken him off of alfalfa mix hay, switched to plain oats until I find a different grain. Got him out standing in the mud from all the rain last night and again today. Have given him banamine.

I would appreciate ALL AND ANY suggestions, ideas.

Both short term and long term.

thanks for your time. I appreciate it alot.
when our mare mildly foundered in April, the vet told us to only feed a little bit of hay, keep the horse in away from grass.

Has your vet come out? Chantilly had to get an IV.
Have been told by vet, no grass, never, ever,never, he is just extremely sensative to. Not even any 15 minutes here and there. Gosh, how sad. Now what can I do to keep him from hating me or getting frustrated or bored to death?

Still am asking for suggestions to help him.



I think it depends on the degree of founder...I had a mare founder on grain. Kept her on soft bedding and cool mud for as long as I could..banamine daily for at least a week...then gradually she became less and less tender. I had to make sure she was kept trimmed..but vet and farrier both agree it was not very severe.

She gave her new owner a really nice palomino filly this she is doing well.

There are some websites..if I can find them I will PM the links to you...
I don't have any advice Carolyn, as I may be needing some myself. I've never had ANY horses founder here (even the large ones I used to have). I think one of my mares has foundered. It had to have happened a few months back, because I've noticed her hoof has grown out funny. I've got the vet coming out for some foals shots, plan to ask him then if it looks like founder. In the meantime, I'm keeping her off all grass & reduced her grain. She has NEVER been lame or even remoted acted as if she was foundering. So, just not sure what this is.
This mare is not overweight either. I'm thinking maybe she foundered on spring grass or when she foaled....but she never showed any signs...that's what has me stumped.

Here's a pic of her hooves. I had just trimmed them here, so they look much better than they did...but you can still tell the left front is growing out strange, and I can even see a slight curve in her right one as well. And this mare's hooves were "perfectly" straight before. My question is...if this was caused by founder, will the hoof ever grow out looking normal again?

Carolyn, I did a search on the forum on founder. Several of the previous posts from forum members came up........ Best of luck to ya.

That isnt founder, its just the hoof isnt being trimmed right. She is wareing down the one side faster then the other. It just has to be trimmed differently, and kept up as she will eventually start to twist on it.

My moms broodmare has started doing this on her back feet last year. Im starting to think that the hoof trimmer isnt trimming her right either, as I have noticed the past few months she has really started to twist on them when she walks, even if it is long or not.
Dona you are probably looking at those rings there on the one front foot. Could be slight founder but I tell you that trim is "off". Inaccurate trims can cause founder. Ashley is right on target here.

OK Carolyn here is where you start:

First X rays. You need X rays to find degree of rotation, if any. If you are rotated then plan for padding the feet and deep shavings and soft ground and never grass ever not even a bite. I love to use stay-free mini pads, then vet wrap, then duck tape. Peel it away from the coronet.

Straight oats. Don't add junk. Straight oats.

Grass hay.

Now be on the lookout for forum member R3, Julie who has become fabulous in her method of trimming foundered horses. She can give your farrier exact directions on how to trim with success.
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Ashley & Marty....I'm glad to hear you don't think it's founder. I DO appreciate your input...but I have been trimming my own horses for over 20 years & I have a good eye for angles. I always make sure my horses hooves are "level" when trimming. I'm not saying I'm any way. I can & do make mistakes, and always looking to improve. But I've been trimming this mare since she was 6 months old & this odd hoof "growth" has just happened in the last few months. Her hooves have been absolutely perfect until now, and so have all my other minis (which I have always trimmed).

I worked & worked on her to get her absolutely level. I know those rings make the hoof "look" like its off, but believe me when I say it is absolutely EVEN on both sides. My friend has a very good farrier...will probably get him out here to get his opinion on how to proceed.

THANKS for the advice....I feel a bit better that it's probably not founder now.
Carolyn, when one of big riding horses started to founder (we had gotten in some awfully rich alfalfa hay), I called my vet immediately while he was still showing early signs of tenderness. My vet put him on Bute and Isoxoprene, and my horse bounced back immediately, it was amazing. I don't know if that would work on a horse that isn't in the very first stages of it, as the Isoxoprene gets the blood flowing in the hooves, but ask your vet about it and see what he/she says.

Good luck with him, I hate founder so bad.
Banamine will help, but as Magic noted, Bute is the drug of choice, and a vasodilator to restore circulation to the foot: Isoxoprene or nitric oxide applied to the digital artery or to the coronary band, depending on which vet you ask. If there is no rotation, many horses will bounce back nicely with quick intervention. If rotation has occurred, you will be in for a longer haul.

I think you'll find that most research indicates the best diet for laminitis and founder is absolutely NO grain whatsoever. Starch and carbs can really aggravate the condition. Grazing needs to be eliminated for the time being as well, until the acute phase is over. Some horses can transition back to a little bit of grain and even some grazing while others cannot tolerate even the slightest amount. That requires a little experimentation AFTER the hooves are stable and there is no more soreness evident.

Please check into the Equine Cushings list which also has a ton of information about laminitis and founder, especially the recommended diets. It will seem overwhelming at first, so don't try to take it all in with one bite. Go to the FILES section and read the articles there which seem to be most pertinent to your case.

Equine Cushings Group

Here are a few more links for info:

Laminitis Trust

Natural Horse Trim - more info here than just trimming

Hope For Soundness

Those will get you started. There is so much new and helpful information about this condition available now which supersedes a lot of the old thinking. I know it's difficult to think about reading a bunch of stuff right now, but it may give you the answers you are seeking.

Thinking good thoughts for you and your horse.

Robin C
I've never had founder in my horses either until recently. Had an older mare grass founder a couple of years ago - we have managed her carefully and she is now - finally - back out on grass with no ill effects thus far. I am back to feeding her with the other mares, grass hay only and very little oats/Equine Sr and beet pulp. For months though, she got only hay and soaked drained beet pulp, and responded very well to it.

Dona, I have another recently foundered mare (have to admit I let this one get too fat) whose front feet look like your mares. They seem to have twisted, and I don't think it's the trim in her case either. She has not been x-rayed, just treating symptomatically and it seems to be working. She is moving sound again but she's still limited to hay and only a handful of Sr and beet pulp once a day, no grass and turnout only on sand. Have also put her on Thyro-L to see if we can pull some fat off of her. She's pretty fed up with me I think.

I do wonder why so many of you insist on feeding grain to your horses?? I have had foundered Ponies(never a Mini) I feed grass (which I know is not an option for some) but it is beyond me how a horse fed grass would be fed grain as well! Anyway, it has foundered so that is the problem. Stop all grain, as Robin said. Grass hay only and stinging nettles if they are available- most people see them as a weed but they are a good source of iron and I always leave a few standing. Marty, not everyone has access to X rays, or can afford them if they do. I have been through two cases of severe founder without them and come out the other side just fine, if the horse has just gone down with it is not likely to rotate immediately so if X rays are an option I would personally save them till the horse is getting better- then you can see what you are dealing with for the rest of the horses life. Both the horses I dealt with (There was a Vet involved in both cases- just said give three Bute's a day and left
) came out of it and went back on grass. Normally. Grazing 24/7!! Spring was the time they had to be brought up, obviously, altho' in the older mares case her owner, with me wingeing in the background, got her a grazing muzzle- it worked brilliantly!! She was as happy as Larry with it on!! I HATE them as you know- but this mare was fine with it. So all is not gloomy for your boy. Keep him moving around, keep his feet hosed down, YES I would use Bute for this, it is really the only thing that works- you need to weigh it out- the leaflet that comes with it tells you how much per lb of bodyweight to give- I went and asked to use a Pharmacists scales to get it right. Good Luck!!
Dona I think that may be the result of an injury- it is very easy for a bruised sole to go un-noticed- the horse might not even be lame- or even a blow to the coronet. If so careful trimming will cure it without further trouble.
We just had our quarter horse mare founder this year. When our vet came to look at her she said she had been really busy with founder cases this year.

We had to take her off grass, off grain and she was given different medications, but it's been so long I don't remember. I know bute was one(of course not good with minis) and banamine and there was something else. If I find the receipt I'll edit this post.

Marty- Very interesting about the trimming can cause founder. I kept hearing of horses with all kinds of problems from the farrier we used to use. We even had some here that he insisted looked fine, but I just knew were not. Well, he trimmed Surprise(QH mare) and she was off a day or two later and couldn't walk. She has been on the same 1acre pasture for 6 years and never had a problem. Never been lame and suddenly she can't walk. Vet checks her and says that both legs the pulses were fast and 100% it was founder. This guy is no longer our farrier for many reasons. I have been saying all along it had to be the trimming. Got a new farrier and I can't believe the difference. Apparently, this guy has been causing a lot of problems.
Our rescue mare has a history of founder even though her hooves look really good. My farrier is just shocked that she founders. If she has even 5 mins of green grass she goes tender on her feet. If i just keep her on the drylot with hay shes fine and never founders. Last summer she got out and was on grass for an hour. It was horrible and i was so scared we would have to put her down. Put her in a stall for seven days with bedding so deep we almost lost her in there
Also gave banamine and after 7 days she was fine and hasnt foundered since. By the way this is the only rescue we havent been able to adopt out because she cant be on grass. I find that so odd as we have adopted out other horses with much more health problems then founder but it seems no one wants a horse that has foundered.

I also agree that a foundered horse should NEVER have grain.

I did talk to a breeder this spring and he swears if you put a foundered horse on thyroid meds they will stop foundering. I havent had the guts to try it
Kay I would say you have discovered ANOTHER type of Founder!!! As Marty pointed out, bad trimming and shoeing can cause concussion and stress Founder, too much grain + too good grass can cause the type we normally see in Minis, then there also seems to be what would appear to be an actual allergy to grass- pretty much self limiting in a horse, I would have thought- but of course, apart from Racehorses we have not horses over here that are not kept on grass- whereas there are fairly large areas in the US where grass is not really an option, so , presumably these grass allergic horses would go un-noticed. When they move to an area where grass is an option- Bingo, Founder!!
Some foundered horses cannot have grain, others have no problem with grain--we've acquired various foundered horses over the years, and each & every one of them has been given oats--we don't give huge quantities of oats, but they do get oats.

We've got one broodmare here now that foundered after a difficult foaling several years before we got her. She's nursing a foal now & is on 2nd cut alfalfa, with no problems whatsoever. Fresh green grass, though, would make her lame if she got much of it....small amounts do her no harm.

Thyro-L may help some foundered horses, though I wouldn't want to give it if the horse didn't test low on T4 tests....our Sherry foundered last year as a result of low thyroid, which was brought on by our iodine deficiency. She never foundered very bad, but she was quite sore at times. She was on Thyro-L for about 8 months; after 2 months on the medication her T4 level was up into the normaal range again, but we never noticed that the drug did too much for her otherwise. I had expected it would speed up her metabolism enough that she'd lose some weight & get over her lameness, but she did not. She has been off the Thyro-L for about 5 1/2 months now, and it was just 3 months ago that she started looking really good again; she dropped her extra weight and she started moving sound again. So, Thyro-L isn't a quick fix for all horses!!

Dona, I have to agree with Ashley & Marty--whatever caused those rings on your mare's foot isn't founder--there is something more than that going on with that hoof. For one thing, even if those were founder rings, they would be level, more or less, across the foot. In your picture, the rings are much higher on one side than the other, which indicates to me that the hoof is for some reason crooked. That outside wall is curling under--it isn't just the rings making it appear to be crooked. I tried to remove the rings, to see how the hoof would look without them, not sure how well this worked: edited to add--it didn't work; I smoothed out the hoof & saved it to photobucket, but the picture doesn't post here???? Anyway, without the rings, the hoof is still distorted.

How old is this mare?
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Rabbitfizz is 100% correct. We tend to feed WAAAY TOO MUCH on this side of the

pond. The farm I worked at always had several mares in a state of founder. The

only way it got corrected was when the owners left in Oct to go south. As soon

as they came back in the spring, they went back to overfeeding and after a week

they were foundering again.. Some people will NEVER learn, but those that do can

correct and prevent it. I am so glad to be out of that situation it frustrated me so

much as a farrier. Thank you rabbit for stating things so correctly. Linda B
I'm probably the queen of founder, because I had 5 of my horses founder at once, due to too much alfalfa in the hay. Two of them were quite bad and took many weeks to get better.

My horses were on bute. Vet said banamine doesn't do much for the pain of founder. I also gave them Zantac with each dose of bute, to help prevent ulcers.

In the early stages we padded their feet. We used the thick pink insulating foam. Drew the foot onto the foam, cut it out, and then reversed it on the hoof, so that the straight side was at and just behind the toe. This takes pressure off the toe, which is the most painful part.

Bedded stalls very heavily, and allowed them to lie down as much as they needed to. Stall rest until they could walk a bit better.

Master farrier came and trimmed them every 4 weeks

Grass hay only. No grain of any kind, no alfalfa, no fresh grass, no carrots or apples, etc.

I think that's about it.

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