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What Is Founder?

Founder is the second leading cause of death for horses. It has been called “loving your horse to death.” It is the result of regular overfeeding which causes dangerous, debilitating changes in body chemistry that destroy the hoof.

This horse-killer starts off as one cause of Lameness, and if unchecked, progresses to Laminitis and finally manifests full blown as Founder.

Founder occurs when a horse’s hoof becomes structurally compromised. The foundered hoof begins to come apart in one or more places (top, sides, sole) due to:

  • structural overload of the hoof
  • endocrine imbalance (Cushing’s)
  • insulin resistance
  • obesity
  • systemic infection
  • toxic plant ingestion
  • illness, especially when fever is present
  • grain overload

When the hoof laminae become inflamed and fragile, pain quickly follows as the hoof becomes unstable.


Founder does not have to be a death sentence, but it does have to be responded to quickly and comprehensively.

 

Understanding Founder

Founder is easier to prevent than turn around. Adding super food nutrition to a controlled environment and being vigilant about feeding is what’s required to keep the Founder death angel at bay.


How to Manage Founder


First of all, make sure it’s Founder. It is best to consult with your veterinarian and your farrier on a Founder case.

If it is Founder, understand that the horse is facing a long recovery, which will be a period of physical and mental stress.


Founder takes months to resolve and during this time the horse has to be separated and confined so that he or she will lie down.

Providing a richer sensory and social environment can help offset this stress. Some owners put a goat in with a foundered horse to alleviate the horse’s boredom and depression from his or her isolation.


Spending extra time with the horse is also a great boon to healing.


The one upside of going through Founder is the opportunity to deepen trust and relationship. It is a journey in the truest sense and a transformative one for horse and human.



 

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Managing Founder

A controlled environment is the cornerstone of good treatment. In warm weather, evening turnout into a small dry paddock and daytime stall rest will help draw heat away from the hooves.

Stall rest or confinement in a small outdoor area with soft ground, but little or no grass allows the horse to lie down as much as possible without the distraction of pasture liberty while his or her hooves heal. If the horse is stalled, make sure the bedding is deep to prevent body sores from developing. Also, consider keeping another horse in the aisle or rotating horses so that the ailing horse isn’t alone.

Reduce or remove high starch feed which inflames the laminae and worsens Founder. Once down with Founder, the only way back to health is by staying down for a good, long while. 


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Founder is a very serious disease that requires substantial management changes and recovery times. Recovery is possible and super food nutrition tips the scale in your horse’s favor.