By definition laminitis is the failure of the attachment between the distal phalanx (coffin bone) and the inner hoof wall. When the lamellae of the inner hoof wall, which normally suspend the distal phalanx from the inner surface of the hoof capsule fail, laminitis occurs. The major causative factor is vasoconstriction and inflammation of the soft tissues.

Laminitis is one of the most common causes of lameness of horses and ponies in the UK. It does not just affect the front feet; just the hind feet may be involved, or one foot or all the feet.

Overeating / unsuitable diets are the most common high risk situations which lead to laminitis, by disrupting hindgut fermentation and releasing absorbable toxins or overproducing certain nutrients.

Other causes of laminitis include systemic infections (particularly where caused by bacteria) as they can cause the release of endotoxins into the blood stream. A retained placenta in a mare is also a notorious cause of laminitis.

Laminitis can sometimes develop after a serious case of colic, due to the release of endotoxins into the blood stream. Concussive laminitis (road founder) is caused by fast or prolonged work on hard surfaces. The laminitis develops as a result of trauma to the laminae, particularly if their horn quality is poor.

Can Equissage help?

In a word "yes" as modern treatments include applying warm compresses around the lower leg to help open up the constricted blood vessels - and what does Equissage do - generate heat within the body.

As pain relieving drugs are routinely administered, such as phenylbutazone, as are anticoagulants and vasodilators to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure as well as treatments to reduce the inflammation, Equissage usage will help negate the toxic effects these drugs can have particularly in horses more prone to digestive upsets.

By using Equissage as part of the treatment you can only do good as the cycloid massage promotes blood flow as well as the elimination of toxins. This is particularly of benefit if the laminitis has been caused by toxaemia or digestive upset (the most common causes). As in so many conditions, with the horse being uncomfortable tensions in other parts of the body will be present, and in the case of laminitis particularly through the back as the horse seeks relief from the pressure in its front feet. Regular massaging will obviously help with these secondary conditions. Also as veterinary science currently recommends that laminitis patients are kept still (as opposed to the belief a few years ago that they should be encouraged to walk) using Equissage will help maintain normal bodily functions which can often become compromised in the inactive horse.


In the case of laminitis little and often is the best treatment because the foot or feet will be so congested due to the restriction of the natural swelling process imposed by the hoof wall. Whilst the promotion of blood flow to the laminae is desired to help repair the damaged cells - and is what nature tries to do - the amount of swelling is usually too great and the blood cannot reach its destination nor can it circulate properly. Shorter, more frequent applications will guard against even more over stimulation of the blood supply feet. If possible as well as using the Pad also use the Hand Unit held on the underneath of the foot - both on a medium setting. The feet being distal from the heart - the natural pumping tool of the body - the Hand Unit will help overcome the effects of gravity.