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Laminitis & Founder
Prevention and Treatment for the Greatest Chance of Success
Book Cover

By Doug Butler, PhD, CJF, FWCF
Butler Professional Farrier School, Crawford, Nebraska

Laminitis and founder are the most serious and most common of the horse foot diseases. And, they are often the most frustrating to treat. You need to know what works, what doesn’t and why.

According to Louisiana State University Equine Health Studies Program (Fall 2006)
Ľ1.3 million horses are affected by founder over the course of their lifetime.
ĽUp to 75% of these horses eventually develop severe lameness and chronic debilitation.
ĽAn estimated $13 million annual monetary losses occur as a result of laminitis.

Horse owners must become the equine professionals’ ally when treating founder in order to have the greatest chance for a successful outcome. Since the level of care provided for the horse is ultimately decided by the horse owner, it is crucial that they understand the scientific and practical treatments that have proven most successful for treating laminitis and founder.

Unfortunately, many incorrect and incomplete theories are currently being taught at schools, workshops and seminars across the country. These treatment fads have caused much unnecessary suffering and can permanently harm a horse for life.

The One Theory That Makes Sense

Of all the theories currently embraced regarding these diseases, I believe that only one makes sense. It is called the edema theory.

The edema theory suggests that as laminar tissues swell, blood vessels leak fluid into the space between the vessels until finally this interstitial fluid causes the blood vessels to collapse.

When laminar cells die, the normal hoof bone bond comes apart and the coffin bone rotates or sinks. The sinking causes a deformation of the hoof capsule and a degeneration of the bone due to pressure on its tip and base. Veterinary medical treatment is aimed at preventing this from occurring and restoring health to damaged tissues. Farrier mechanical treatment utilizing frog support is aimed at supporting the bone column so that circulation can be restored and damaged tissues can heal. This generally results in immediate pain relief, but full recovery may take many months.

Professional farriers and veterinarians often don’t agree on the causes and treatments for laminitis and founder. People generally stick with what they learned in school. If the teaching was based on a faulty concept, the results will not be consistent and as effective as they could be. Also, because of the severity of this systemic disease, some horses will die, no matter how they are treated.

The words laminitis and founder are often used interchangeably, yet they refer to different stages of a serious systemic disease. Laminitis progresses to founder in a predictable sequence of events, which are also referred to as the various “forms” of laminitis. These are: mild laminitis, acute laminitis, mild chronic founder, and severe chronic founder.

Laminitis is such a serious problem that it requires strict attention to prevention by constantly monitoring the horse’s diet and environment. Laminitis is often a component or symptom of another disease or condition which must be treated concurrently or simultaneously. Each case must be considered individually, and we recommend that you consult with your veterinarian/farrier team regarding the health and care of your horse.

A new book called Laminitis & Founder: Prevention and Treatment for the Greatest Chance of Success, co-authored by Dr. Doug Butler and Dr. Frank Gravlee, challenges erroneous theories that are being taught today at many seminars and conferences as well as veterinary and farrier schools across the country. This new 96-page illustrated book is the result of 75 combined years of clinical experience and contains cutting edge information on how to treat and prevent the devastating and sometimes fatal diseases of laminitis and founder.
It can be purchased at or by calling 1-800-728-3826 (press 1).
 The edema theory is the foundation of treatment for laminitis and founder taught at Butler Professional Farrier School.

To view informative Q&A videos about the school, click here.

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