Pain in the feet is the main sign of laminitis – the degree of pain show can vary from case to case. Some horses demonstrate mild pain, shown as a reluctance to walk forward normally on rough or uneven ground. Others shift their weight as they stand or are reluctant to life their feet or walk and turn in right circles.

Severe cases are unable to move at all and are seen lying down frequently. A horse may also show that he’s in pain by an increased breathing rate and sometimes you will see signs that are more usually associated with colic – sweating and lying down, for example.

Vets grade laminitic pain using the Obel System:-

  • Grade I: The horse or pony will shift weight from one foot to the other or constantly life his feet. Lameness is not evident at walk but the stride is shortened at trot.
  • Grade II: He moves willingly at a walk and trot but with a noticeably shortened and stabbing stride. Feet can be lifted off the ground without difficulty.
  • Grade III: At this level, the equine will move reluctantly and resist attempts to lift his feet.
  • Grade IV: Horses express marked reluctance or an absolute refusal to move.  


To read more about laminitis, check out the full article in the May issue of Horse magazine.