Laminitis is a crippling and complicated disease. There is nothing “easy” about managing a horse after acute laminitis and the resulting founder, but Rebecca Mandeville has tackled it twice. She has succeeded in part by leaning on her ‘village’ of experts- all working together to bring her equine soul mate, Blue, back to the trails. This article recounts one women’s experience building her post-laminitis team; a talented veterinarian, an accomplished farrier, a passionate nutrition consultant, and a dedicated barn owner.
Rebecca’s Equine Soul Mate, Blue, The Mountain Pleasure Horse
Blue is Rebecca’s first horse. He is a Mountain Pleasure Horse- a gaited breed originally from Appalachia. When she purchased Blue in 2010, she admits that she knew little, but was eager to learn. She did not recognize some of the early signs of insulin resistance such as the persistent white line disease and abnormal fat deposition. When the gelding became lame on pasture the spring of 2012, a veterinarian tested him for IR and Cushings, both which resulted in borderline blood levels. He was restricted from pasture and fed an untested grass hay. By the end of that year he recovered enough to be lightly ridden, but when recounting this time, Rebecca believes he was still sub clinical- continuing to suffer from mild lameness and white line disease. In the spring of 2014, after a move to the Oregon coast, laminitis struck again resulting in rotation of the coffin bone, also known as founder. It was after this episode that Rebecca went to work educating herself about the feeding and management options for insulin resistant horses. She read about the roles of carbohydrates in equine diets, about how to test for sugars and starches, and about how to soak hay for the removal of some water soluble carbohydrates. Sadly, despite all of her commitment, Blue foundered for a second time in January 2017 while being fed hay that was sold as “low carb”. Not satisfied with her current options, and desperate to get her horse healthy again, Rebecca found the newly released Equis Teff Natural.
“I do not believe it is an over exaggeration to say that Equis Feeds has designed a brilliant product that will no doubt save thousands of horses lives and also make the lives of owners like me so much easier. Knowing Blue could be on your ALFALFA FREE pellets as a complete feed if I cannot soak hay or cannot find good enough quality hay to soak has literally taken a million pound weight off of my shoulders. We have x-rays six weeks apart and he was on your product during that six weeks and we have extraordinary improvement in both hooves. You and your team should feel so great about what you have done and I am so very grateful to you personally as well for contacting me.”
THE VETERINARIAN’S ROLE: Equis Teff Natural was recommended by her veterinarian, Dr. Jacquelyn Beyerlein from Del Oeste Equine in Eugene, OR. Since your veterinarian is usually the first person “on scene” after laminitis, they are often your first source of feed and management options. It’s important to work with a veterinarian that is actively seeking information on new products and new laminitis research as it is in a rapid stage of development. The veterinarian will diagnosis and monitor cases of laminitis or founder by testing the blood for abnormal levels of glucose and insulin, tracking the rotation of the coffin bone with a portable, digital x-ray machine, and providing the pain management tools for these horses. They may also recommend medications that improve blood flow to the hooves and/or supplements that improve insulin sensitivity. A great veterinarian will have recommendations for farriers in the area that are knowledgable and experienced working with these sensitive horses.
The team at Del Oeste Equine is exceptional for all of the reasons listed above. They can be contacted by calling 541-689-0205 or online by clicking HERE.
Dr. Beyerlein comparing x-rays taken in January and again in March.
THE FARRIER’S ROLE: The role of the farrier in post-laminitis situations can not be overstated. It is important that proper hoof care be immediately administrated for pain relief. Foundered horses may require a shorter period between farrier visits to improve long-term positive results. Blue is on a six week rotation. If the veterinarian does not have a farrier recommendation, you may also try sourcing a reputable farrier through your state or region’s farrier associations (Click here for Oregon’s Farrier Association link). Working together, the farrier and the veterinarian are a powerful duo; examining x-rays and determining the best course of action for immediate and long-term hoof care! Rebecca laughs as she recounts speaking to Mike Waldorf for the first time. “I wouldn’t let him say NO,” she says. “Mike the Farrier agreed to drive to the coast to help me.” Mike recommended the Soft Ride boots with gel inserts to improve Blue’s comfort and support.
Mike and Dr. B examining x-rays together in March, 2017.
Blue in his Soft Ride Boots
THE NUTRITION CONSULTANT’S ROLE: As an equine nutrition consultant, it is my job to compliment the veterinarian and the farrier by determining the best feed program based on nutritional priorities, availability, management preferences, financial constraints, and in-depth knowledge of the huge variety of products on the market. Here are just a few services that a good nutrition consultant can offer you:
- Forage testing and translation of the results
- Sourcing “low carb” products
- Ideas for slow feeders, soaking hay, and other technology on the market (I personally keep a box full of brochures on the many different types of tools for feeding horses.)
- Techniques for achieving and managing weight loss (See the Healthy Horse app by University of Minnesota)
- Balancing the diet for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals which is necessary for optimal healing. This is especially critical when feeding the lower energy, lower carbohydrate forages necessary for weight loss and hormone balance.
- Optimizing the diet with nutraceuticals
- Direct you towards a feed store with knowledgable employees and good pricing
Rebecca was able to source the Equis Teff Natural through The Farm Store in Veneta, Oregon. The owner, Travis Soverns, was very helpful and offered a tonnage discount for purchasing 40 bags (1 pallet). “Travis had the foresight to stock your product early on,” said Rebecca. “Without him, it would have been very tough for me to get Equis Teff Natural.” Visit The Farm Store online by clicking HERE.
The hay soaking station!
THE BARN MANAGER’S ROLE: I will state again…managing horses with laminitis and founder is NOT easy! The additional time and worry can be a major source of stress and anxiety for horse owners suffering right along with their equids. That’s why Rebecca is extremely grateful for the team of people at her boarding facility in Florence- C&M Stables, owned by Jeff Chastain. “Jeff is an important part of the ‘team’ along with the wonderful staff at C&M. He’s made a huge area in the barn to store hay just for me, because the horses are doing so well on it.” Rebecca provides extra bedding for Blue to keep him comfortable and minimizes his stress by placing herd mates within view. With all the feed and management changes necessary to keep Blue comfortable and content, an understanding barn manager is worth their weight in gold!
Many of you reading this article will identify with Rebecca’s passionate pursuit of options (and frustration at the lack of them) for severely IR/laminitic horses. The Equis Teff Natural is the only grass hay based, low carb AND low calorie complete feed on the market. We believe that alfalfa based products are counter productive to most metabolic horses due to the high caloric value of alfalfa hay. You can find an article in the American Farrier’s Journal by Dr. Juliet M Getty, an independent PhD nutritionist, concerning potential disadvantages of alfalfa in the IR horses’ diet. Click HERE to be directed to the article.
“X-rays show that Blue is making fantastic progress and my vet is very hopeful I will be riding him again by my birthday in August if he keeps improving. I am VERY happy. So many people are contributing to Blue’s recovery!” Rebecca Mandeville is an author, licensed therapist, and national life coach (http://chainfreeliving.com) based out of Florence, OR. Equis Feed wants to thank her for her massive contribution to this article!
March 10, 2017 from Dr. Jacquelyn Beyerlein, DVM: “Well I have some good news! Blue’s rotation is improved by about 2-degrees (LF 7.3, RF 5.8) in both feet and his sole depth is adequate in the LF (1cm) and just shy in the RF (0.9cm). So overall we’re on the right track!”