Many horse owners will assume the spring and summer grass will exacerbate laminitis so restrict grazing over the warmer months. However grass will accumulate sugar during the winter which is influenced by the cooler temperatures, over-cast days and longer nights. All of which will impact photosynthesis and respiration in plants. Horses with previous hoof damage from laminitis can also be affected by restricted blood flow during the cold weather, which will impede temperature regulation of the hooves over winter. Something of a double whammy right there.
It is often the case owners will wait until the horse is showing symptoms of laminitis before taking action. Yet laminitis could already be affecting the horse with no outward physical signs. Owners also increase feed quantity over winter instead of taking the opportunity to encourage weight loss in overweight horses.
While extra fibre may be beneficial over winter adding extra calories could be detrimental to the horse’s health, so take careful consideration over what horses are consuming to reduce the risk. While many horses adapt to the cold weather without issue, horses with circulatory hoof damage will experience pain as blood supply is restricted (Kellon E 2017).
Laminitis is a complicated disease and causation can be multitudinous although studies continue. While science may not have all the answers yet it is certain that preventative measures should be taken over 12 months of the year, rather than just over spring and summer.
Kellon E (2017) Combating Winter Laminitis, Horse Network [ONLINE] Available at:
(Accessed 25th September 2017)