by Ben J. Character, DVM
Laminitis (also know as “Founder”) is a damaging condition that affects the feet of horses. The condition can range from mild to severe, and sometimes results in the need for euthanasia. There are many situations that can result in a foundered horse. One type of founder is grass founder.
Grass founder occurs when a horse eats too much lush grass. Obviously, this condition is most prevalent during the springtime with the fresh, newly grown grass. It can occur from ingestion of any type of grass that grows very rapidly under ideal conditions.
The most prominent sign of grass founder is a reluctance to walk. The horse may appear to be ”walking on eggshells”. They usually can be encouraged to walk a few steps, but will protest greatly to being turned in a tight circle.
The most important part of therapy is to remove the horse from the grass. The horse should be put in a stall or dry lot that is devoid of grass. Hay and/or grain can be fed instead of grass. Medications are usually prescribed after a veterinarian has examined the horse. Fortunately, if caught early, most grass founders respond well to medications and removal from grass. Horses that frequently founder on grass will need to be kept off of lush spring (and sometimes early summer) grasses every year.