Laminitis is an inflammatory condition of the tissues inside a horse’s hoof, known as laminae. These tissues attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall inside the hoof capsule. Horses, but especially ponies, can develop laminitis very easily. When the tissue becomes inflamed, it cannot swell because it is restricted by the structure of the hoof, and this pressure this leads to chronic pain.
Laminitis can be caused by a high intake of sugars and and starch which can overload the digestive system, which in turn disrupts digestion, kills healthy bacteria and releases toxins into the bloodstream which causes a disruption in blood flow including in the horses’ hooves, which can cause laminitis.
The horse/pony will attempt to alleviate this by trying to take their weight off their hooves, adapting the classic posture of a typical laminitic horse, leaning back on their heels in an attempt to relieve the pressure from the front of the hoof. In very severe cases, they will lie down in as their hooves are too painful to weight bear. Careful management of a horse’s diet and monitoring of sugar intake can support a horse’s recovery from Laminitis. Strip grazing (partitioning off sections of a field at a time) or using grazing muzzles can help to restrict grazing and therefore sugar intake.
You can find out more about Laminitis here