Early Warning Signs of Laminitis

These are ways to check for low levels of inflammation developing in your horse.  If you have a chronic laminitic or a horse in an acute phase of laminitis, I’m assuming you already know and have sought professional help and support.  These would be the early warning signs to watch out for.

The Questions

1. Does your horse have a detectible digital pulse?

2. Can you see bruising in the hoof capsule, in the wall, sole or frog?

3. Can you see growth rings in the hoof horn?

4. Do you have persistent, flare all around the hoof (not just on 1 side)?

5. Do you have a stretched white line?

6.Do you see long toes and under run heels or much faster growth at the heels than at the toe?

7. Do you see the toe flicking in the air on landing (exaggerated heel first landing) or a shortened choppy stride?

8. Do you have very slow or very fast wall growth?

9. Do you have very thin, or very thick and flat soles?

10. Is there heat in the hooves and/or coronary band?


Some of those questions cover both ends of the spectrum, I know that seems a little in conflict, but laminitis tends to show up in 1 of 2 ways which oddly are opposites of each other

You will only see bruising in white horn. It can be there in black horn, you just can’t see it. It will often show up as infection though.

When looking for the flicking toe, it can be identified by seeing just a quick flash of sole as the hoof lands. (to be honest it’s more likely you’re seeing a shadow than sole, but it feels like you’re seeing the bottom of the hoof as it lands)

You may need to ask your Hoof Care Practitioner about sole thickness and hoof growth rate.


For each 'YES' answer score 1 point.

This will give you a score for each foot individually. Take an average (add them all up and divide by 4 – hopefully!) to get an overall picture, but if you have 3 hooves scoring well and 1 hoof scoring poorly, then this suggests (or confirms) an imbalance in your horse.

It is possible to get inflammation in just 1 hoof, both fronts, both hinds, diagonal pairs or all 4. On occasion you might also see it in 3 hooves. Check each hoof individually, it all depends on the cause of the problem, or other issues your horse might have.

If your score is 0

If your score is 1-3

If your score is 4-6

If your score is 7-10