5 Essentials Every Horse Owner Needs To Know About Laminitis

1. It can happen to any horse

Laminitis isn’t just for fat ponies! 

‘~itis’ on the end of a word indicates inflammation so Laminitis means inflammation of the laminae. Inflammation is a healing response.

This means Laminitis can happen to any horse, or indeed any hooved animal. My focus is on the horses, ponies…. Any equid really.

Too much grass is the most commonly known cause of laminitis, which is why it's considered a problem for fat ponies. But there are other risk factors too.

  • Endocrine problems like Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID; equine Cushing's disease)
  • Toxic reactions like sudden over eating of the wrong food, poison intake, or allergy response
  • Chemicals and drugs - some medical interventions can increase the chance a laminitis response
  • Medical conditions - as inflammation is part of the healing process, some medical conditions may cause a laminitic response
  • Stress, either physical or mental, can increase inflammation in a horse and cause a laminitis response

These things increase the risk of laminitis, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list and horses can still get laminitis even if they’re not considered to be in a high risk group.

2. It’s all about the inflammation

We already know that laminitis means there’s inflammation in the hoof capsule (see point 1) but we really need to look deeper at what that inflammation is doing to the hoof.

Firstly, I’d say that while laminitis means inflammation of the laminae, it’s actually the whole internal foot that is inflamed, not just the laminae. Often it’s not just the whole foot that’s inflamed, but the whole horse. 

Systemic inflammation is pretty common in our modern world, and while it makes us feel a bit rubbish, it’s not debilitating. The body expands, and gets a bit puffy, skin can stretch, we get on with our life.

But the hoof… The hoof can’t stretch. This is what makes inflammation so debilitating for the hooves. The inflammation causes pressure inside the hoof capsule, and can be anything from sore to excruciatingly painful.

Ironically, the stronger a hoof is, the less able it is to accommodate inflammation.

That’s why traditionally good footed horses, are also traditionally laminitis prone horses ie. Ponies, Natives, Arabs, Cobs etc. The Thoroughbreds aren’t off the hook though - keep reading… 

3. The vast majority of hoof pathology and deformity is caused by or related to inflammation

I know that’s quite a claim, but give me a moment to explain.

Inflammation causes pressure in the hoof. Mild inflammation causes mild pressure and acute inflammation causes acute pressure.

Pressure stimulates hoof growth, but pressure also interferes with blood flow to the hooves, and this can result in weak poor quality growth due to lack of nutrients getting to the foot.

We’re familiar with the hoof damage caused by acute laminitis, but what will you see with mild inflammation and low grade laminitis?

  • Flare
  • Wall cracks, chipping and cracking
  • Hoof infection
  • Thin soles
  • Underrun heels
  • Poor quality hoof horn
  • Growth rate issues

What do I mean by growth rate issues? So glad you asked :) 

For some horses inflammation causes the growth rate to slow down due to lack of nutrients getting the hoof. Thoroughbreds, I’m looking at you. Low grade laminitis can cause weak splatty hooves with thin soles, weak heels, weak white lines rubbish hoof wall - chips, cracks, flare and infection.

But for some horses that inflammation may speed up the growth. You’ll see fast growth, with flare, cracks, sometimes thick soles, strong heels, hoof infection and weak white lines. This is more typical for native types, cobs, ponies etc.

4. It’s the inflammation that causes most of the pain

When your horse has mild inflammation they will show signs of being foot sore. They may be foot sore on stones, or hard surfaces, it might be a shortened stride, or reluctance to go forwards. It might be that they’re ok in a straight line but they seem ‘off’ on a circle, or reluctant to turn.

These are all signs of low grade laminitis; Signs of lameness and pain in the hoof.

I’m saying this because I can’t count the times I’ve been told ‘my horse isn’t lame, just foot sore’ or ‘they’re not in pain, their feet are just sensitive’.

Foot soreness doesn’t show up as a limping kind of lameness because there isn’t a non-sore foot to limp onto. Foot soreness is pain in all feet (sometimes it’s more obvious in just the fronts).

Healthy bare hooves are more ‘sensitive’ in terms of having better proprioception and awareness of their feet. It shouldn't mean pain or soreness when walking is normal..

There’s essentially 2 reasons for a horse to be foot sore. One is inflammation in the hoof, the other is poor hoof structure. These 2 things are not mutually exclusive, and don’t forget that inflammation can be the cause weak hoof structure.

What about more serious cases of laminitis where rotation is involved?

The inflammation is responsible for a lot of the pain here too. 

There is some tearing of the internal structures initially, which is undoubtedly very painful, but this initial stage of acute laminitis is fairly short compared to the 9-12 months (or longer) it can take to grow out the damaged hoof.

I would never want to minimise the  pain and stress of the early stages acute laminitis but that is very much a case for your vet and hoof care provider. I would like to talk about the recovery phase, as there’s some important things going on there.

During this recovery period, it’s really easy to see how damaged the hoof is, and assume that is why your horse is sore. But it’s actually inflammation (usually low grade) that’s causing the soreness. 

It’s easy to accept low grade inflammation in a horse recovering from laminitic rotation, as low grade inflammation is a dramatic improvement from acute inflammation but, as discussed above low grade inflammation causes soreness and poor hoof growth ie. It inhibits healing.

It seems ridiculous to say that preventative methods for low grade laminitis can help a horse who’s already had laminitis and is in the recovery stage, but it’s not closing the stable door after the horse has bolted (as it were).

Preventative methods are all about monitoring, reducing and managing systemic inflammation. 

Doing that reduces hoof pain and discomfort and allows the hoof to heal and grow strong healthy structure.

That’s what we need to do to prevent laminitis, it’s also what we need to do to recover from laminitis

With the right management, horses can be comfortable while they’re recovering. Even if their pedal bones have penetrated the sole. 

5. Rarely does it ‘just come out of nowhere’

There are hundreds, possibly thousands of guides, posts, videos, books etc that will tell you the warning signs of laminitis. I even have one myself. I’m not even going to make you look for it. I’ll list the main signs of acute laminitis right here. Everyone should know them

  • Bounding digital pulse
  • Heat in the hooves
  • Rocked back stance
  • Reluctance to walk and/or lying down a lot 
  • Tucked up/heave lines
  • Increased heart rate

But… These are the signs that a horse is already having an acute laminitic event. If you’re seeing these signs, it’s already happening, and you need to call your vet.

It’s rare for acute laminitis to just happen with no warning though. It can happen, with an unexpected medical issue, or a toxic reaction, but most cases of laminitis slowly creep up, a little like the proverbial frog in boiling water.

Inflammation leaves clues.

There are a number of signs in the horse’s body, movement and hoof health that can tell you if a horse has systemic inflammation. Some of these signs can tell you if inflammation is an immediate problem. Some signs can tell you if inflammation is a longer term problem for your horse.

Being able to monitor these early warning signs is key to keeping your horse laminitis free, and helping their recovery should a laminitic event happen.

Knowing all this about laminitis is one thing but recognising those 35 early warning signs and knowing how to use them to protect your horse is another.

But don’t worry, I created an online course so you can learn how to use these signs to protect your horse.

Why don’t I just list these signs here?

Honestly, I’ve tried that and it didn’t help anyone. In fact it made things worse!

A list of things to look for is just data. Without context it’s difficult to know how to actively use that information. Knowledge is information with understanding. 

I want to help you understand:

  • what’s really going on with inflammation and laminitis so it seems less scary 
  • how to use these signs to monitor and evaluate your horse so you can know at a glance if there’s a problem, and when everything is great
  • what to do when you see inflammation in your horse, so you can take action as soon as possible
  • How to apply this information to meet your individual horse's needs

I can’t cover all that with 1 article 

If I give you a list I’ll have just given you 35 more reasons to worry.

What I want to do is give you the tools you need so you can effectively monitor and respond to your horse’s needs so you’re less stressed and have more time and energy for fun with your horse

I'm Debs Crosoer

I’m a practicing Equine Podiatrist with over 15 years experience, an author and educator. My focus is on helping people who want wildly effective horse keeping methods, without the usual stress and complications.

I’ve helped many horse owners recover their horses from laminitis, using species appropriate, whole horse hoof health methods. 

I believe knowledge is power. The more we can understand about what's causing laminitis, the better we can prevent it and/or help our horses to recover quickly.


will give you a system to: 

  • Quickly and easily evaluate your horse, that allows you to address problems before they build up.
  • Improve your horse’s performance, health and happiness which means our furry friends can live their best life
  • Feel Less Stressed! Because you’ll understand what’s going on with your horse 

You'll also benefit from:

  • An amazing community of dedicated horse owners just like you, so you can learn together and share your experience
  • Support from me! It’s my mission to make it as simple and stress free as possible for you to meet your horse’s individual needs.

Just £79

If only I had The Benefit of this course Before...

Julie Baker

It was a shock for me when Ruby was diagnosed with Laminitis. If only I’d had the benefit of the knowledge from this course before, then I would have recognised several of the warning signs of Low Grade Laminitis and could have taken the measures to stop it

I was not sure I was going to learn anything new

Alison Parker-Jervis

I love learning and researching, and I thought I had uncovered all available information on laminitis, so I was not sure that I was going to learn anything new. I was SO WRONG! The information in the LWS course fills in all the gaps in my previous learning, and Deb’s depth of knowledge, attention to detail, and presentation make this course worth every penny.

My Farrier was Pleasantly Surprised

Fiona Jackson

I’ve changed how I look after my horses. After 6 weeks I am already starting to see the difference in the hooves of my horse who has always been "footy", my farrier was "pleasantly surprised"

Will This Work For Me?

This course is designed for you if you:

  • Want your horse to be as sound and strong as they can be, whether they’re young, in the prime of their life, or enjoying their retirement
  • Need to get to the bottom of niggling, (or even debilitating) hoof problems
  • Don’t want to worry you might miss the signs of laminitis
  • Have a horse who’s prone to laminitis, or is recovering from laminitis

What will I have to do?

I’ve made this as simple as possible for you learn

  • All the lessons are pre-recorded so you can access them when it suits you.
  • Each module is about 1 hour long, broken up into short videos so you can fit them in easily.
  • There’s just over 90mins of bonus videos with tips and tricks to help you with the challenges I see most commonly causing confusion, or stress.
  • The bonus Inner Circle membership is there so you can get support and guidance creating a system tailored to your horses specific needs, and your needs too! We’re there if and when you need it, whether that’s now, or some time in the future.

Here's What You'll Learn In 4 Weeks


Anatomy And Function - Putting The 'Fun' Into Function!!

No... seriously! Most people expect this to be the boring part, but it's the foundation of everything. A good grasp of anatomy is key to cutting through the confusion. And it's a good excuse for some colouring in :)

In This Module You'll Learn...
What a hoof is supposed to look like. Discover all the nooks and crannies of a healthy hoof capsule
It's what's on the inside that counts! The ins and outs of the internal hoof are revealed.
What hoof growth can tell you about your horse...
The #1 stumbling block to healthy circulation and why it's so important.
The essential role hooves play in maintaining health and stamina for the whole horse.


Understanding Laminitis

By the end of this module you'll understand all the terminology as well as the condition.

We'll look at the different ways laminitis can affect the horse, what happens in the hoof and how it all affects the horse as a whole.

In This Module You'll Learn...
Why inflammation is so debilitating to the hoof.
The dead give away signs of low grade laminitis.
When a hoof is suffering with more serious levels of laminitis and rotation.
How inflammation changes in the horse's body and hooves.



For your horse, not you! Don't worry, it's not exam week!!

There are many important clues to spot in the horse's body and hooves if you know what to look out for.

In This Module You'll Learn...

How to assess and interpret the early warning signs

5 signs that circulation is compromised.

16 different ways the hoof capsule will show low grade laminitis.

9 ways the horse will change their gait to compensate for low grade laminitis.

5 ways the horse's body and posture will change as a result of low grade laminitis

And 7 signs it's more serious, acute laminitis, not low grade.



Here's where we pull all your new knowledge and skills together.

How to find what's causing the problems. Ideas and suggestions for managing your horse’s environment for maximum results and minimum stress. Nutrition for the laminitic - what to do, what not to do.

In This Module You'll Learn...

Causes of inflammation and practical prevention remedies and management.

Simple ways to improve your horse's environment that work even if you're on a livery yard.

Species appropriate nutrition and practical ways to regulate the grass - without the stress!

How to manage foot soreness

Common myths and misconceptions around laminitis that keep you stressed out, feeling guilty and working far harder than you need to.

Just £79

That's not All! Check out the bonuses

Laminitis Friendly Feeding List - find the best feed for your horse without tearing your hair out.

Supplements That Actually Work - so you don’t waste time and money and go straight for the good stuff.

Ultimate Guide to Soaking Hay - cut through all the conflicting information and find what works for you and your horse.

Therapeutic Pads for Laminitis Recovery - these pads are a miracle for comfort and developing healthy hoof growth

A Simple Technique to Monitor Workload - so you can tell if your exercise is strengthening your horse or causing strain.

Gut Friendly Laminitis Management Plan - manage laminitis in a healthy, species appropriate way, without causing gut problems

Hoof Dissection Module - once you see what’s on the inside it changes the way you view hooves forever. (it’s not too gross, I promise)

Inner Circle Membership

You also get VIP access to the Inner Circle membership when you enroll on this Hoof Geek Academy course.

Twice monthly Zoom meetings. If you’ve got questions about how to apply all your new found knowledge to benefit your horse’s specific needs, this is the place to come and ask, or pop along and learn from other people’s questions.  

Supportive Facebook Group filled with like minded horse people so you can benefit from each others experience, and share your journey.

We even have a motto… Nothing is off topic in the pursuit of hoof health!

Don't Wait! Get Started Now!

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I was shocked to discover how little I knew

Verity Wedderburn-Ogilvy

After 45 years around horses I was shocked to discover how little I knew about the hoof. With an EMS pony to worry about I am now confident I have the tools I need to keep on top of things and understand what's actually going on.

I wish I'd known

Sally McGrath

I wish I'd known all of this information you've provided in this course before, I could have definitely prevented my mare from getting laminitis. I certainly know what to look out for now

I now have a much better understanding of how to care for my horses

Liz Keen 

I have had horses for 50 years and can't believe that no-one has ever told me the simple, basic information that you shared I now have a much better understanding of how to care for my horses (not just the laminitic one).



I just want to thank Debs and also glamorous assistant Victoria for an excellent course.

The course totally exceeded expectations containing the right amount of knowledge to really help you feel confident assessing your horse and also providing you with the skills to change management when needed.

The live sessions that accompanied the course were absolutely key to tying everything together and also providing a non judgemental forum where any question is deemed appropriate!! The video content I know I will refer back to again and again.



This is a 4 week long course.

1 module will be released each week. It will take 45-60 mins to complete. How much extra time you spend discussing things and asking questions is up to you!

You have lifetime access, so you can work at your own pace. You literally can't fall behind :)


Each module has video lessons, with supporting docs like worksheets, pdfs and further resources.

Access is through the Hoof Geek Academy membership site.

You get instant access to the first module and each week a new module is released.


This course is aimed at horse owners. All the basics will be covered.

I try to make everything easy to understand.


We have a Zoom meeting twice month where you can ask Debs anything, a private facebook group of dedicated hoof geeks, and a comments section for each lesson where you can get your questions answered.


Well, technically it's all done at home :)

But there are no assignments to complete, or grades given.


You can get a course completion certificate for CPD purposes, or just for your own satisfaction to hang on your wall! You'll be able to download it from the membership site once you've completed the course.


Tereska Star

This course has been such an invaluable goldmine of information, advice and support.

It has added another dimension to the Equine bodywork I do and by sharing with my clients it has enabled them to have a deeper understanding too.

Hopefully many of them will sign up for your next course.