Definition : Laminitis Anxiety
Meaning : The anxiety we humans have about laminitis. The feeling of nervousness as that first grass blade appears in spring; The feeling of guilt as you put up the fence to keep your pony away from the grass and usually the rest of the herd; The fear that we have of never doing enough, or not doing the ‘right thing’. The worry about money now we got that second pony to keep the first pony company, but they seem to get laminitis for a different reason. Are they in pain? Should we give them pain killers? Do the pain killers cause other problems? What feed should we give them? Should we even give them a bucket of feed at all? What about natural supplements, do they really help?
Result : Stress and Anxiety
This is Chocolate. She was born in 1999 we think (it was a guess from the vet as she didn’t have papers when her previous owner took her on). She came to me in 2013, and has suffered with laminitis attacks for most of her time with me. My farrier and I also believe she had laminitis attacks prior to coming to me. She has been separated from her herd mates. She has had natural herbal solutions. She has had pain killers. She has had trims every four weeks. She has suffered with back pain and joint pain because of compensating for hoof pain. Her pedal bones have had some rotation. At one point she got laminitis in all four feet from her hay in winter. She has had blood tests for cushings. She has had feed supplements for insulin resistance.
This is Querida. She was born in 2006 and came to me in 2018. She has had many ‘owners’ over her short life, and has had bad attacks of laminitis with 38 degree hoof rotation in her front feet. She also has some problems with her front feet as they have developed pointing inwards which affects her shoulders. Additionally she is very defensive of her food – a typical laminitic trait due to near starvation diets being forced on them. When she takes food from your hand or a bucket she pushes down as though she has a muzzle on, so she probably has been muzzled for long periods of time, without respite.
In Spring of 2018, I finally found the courage to do something I had been considering for a while. Chocolate was having a really bad attack and looked like she was in the process of giving up completely. She hadn’t been on much grass. I had been considering taking her off a natural herb supplement specifically for insulin resistance and associated laminitis for a while, but had never had the courage to follow my instincts. I finally did that. About a week after removing the supplement Chocolate started to recover. It was as though the supplement had been making her unwell. Thinking back now a number of factors could have been involved in what was happening to her system. We had moved a year before and the fields are different here. There is more clay in the soil, and also the herd are now on well water / ground water instead of tap water. I had maintained a supplement without considering the dietary changes she was getting naturally. I just always assumed it was laminitis with her. That is when I started to first consider laminitis as a symptom that shows itself when there is something else amiss.
But the main thing about ‘ managing’ my ponies was learning to release the anxieties that had grown up over the years and start to follow my instincts.
Over the last 18 months to a year I have delved deeper and deeper into my own anxieties, and slowly but surely grown more confident in my instincts and my abilities to connect with the ponies on a deeper and deeper level. This connection takes practice, but think of it like this. If you are walking with your horse and you decide a little trot is in order, your energy is already rising up for the trot and your horse will instinctively start trotting at pretty much the same instant that you think it. That is the very basic energetic connection. That can be deepened and deepened into a form of communication with your horse that is entirely energetic instead of behavioural. A lot deeper than body language. And from this connection you start to understand a very important element of being with horses:
Our anxiety is their anxiety………….and anxiety is not good for anybody!
Importantly, by letting go of your fears and anxieties, and allowing yourself to connect with the pony, not the illness, you will relax and the solutions will come, and your ponies will heal in their own way. This is the journey of discovery I found myself on and will share with you as each year, and each season, shows me new ways of understanding this problem that seems to insinuate itself so strongly into the lives of a lot of pony people.