Reducing your horse's laminitis risk...through close monitoring

16 Jun 2021 (Horse health news)

Reducing your horse's laminitis risk...through close monitoring

So far in this series we have covered two important topics in reducing your horse’s laminitis risk this spring: how to limit your horse’s grass intake and how to check for and manage any underlying hormonal conditions.

In this final article we bring you 5 tips on monitoring your horse’s condition. Doing this well will mean that you spot any early signs or risk factors for laminitis promptly, and can address them quickly.

Monitoring can take many forms; it can be as simple as being mindful of your horse’s general demeanour, or as in depth as a written daily diary. Questions that it is helpful to regularly ask yourself include: is your horse more or less active? Has their response to the farrier changed? Is their girth one hole looser or tighter? The questions on the laminitis checklist that we shared earlier in this series are a good prompt to keep in mind. The most important point is to have a routine and stick to it. By following a regular routine in terms of how frequently you monitor your horse, and what you check for, you will become accustomed to what is normal for your horse and will then pick up on even small changes much more quickly.


The five measurements to keep an eye on are:

  1. Weekly weigh tape and Body Fat Score (BFS).  Although a weigh tape is not an accurate means to determine the exact weight of your horse, if you use the same tape regularly it will give you a good indication of whether your horse’s weight is changing. Combining a weigh tape with a BFS will allow you to identify where your horse is putting on or losing fat or muscle which is important in then deciding on an action plan with your vet.  You can record your horse’s weight and BFS in the online diary section of, where there is a useful graph section so you can see how your horse’s weight and BFS have changed over time, and the impact of different management regimes.
  2. Daily Activity Diary.  A simple way of doing this is to keep a wall calendar at the yard where you jot down each day what your horse has done, but there are also lots of apps available which give you the ability to record more detail such as hack routes, amount of time spent trotting, how your horse felt during the ride etc. Noting this down each day will give you a solid awareness of what is ‘normal’ for your horse, and equally what is not ‘normal’. For example, struggling to pick up feet for the farrier could be a sign of low-grade laminitis, or the beginnings of osteoarthritis. Some symptoms are subtle to begin with, but early detection will almost always be beneficial in terms of the management options and success rate of treatment.
  3. Regular laboratory results.  If your horse has been diagnosed with Equine Cushing’s disease or EMS then your vet will want to monitor their condition through regular blood tests. The most common values to monitor are blood levels of ACTH (Adrenocorticotrophic hormone) and insulin.  You can also record these values in the Care About Cushing’s online diary – take a look at our FAQ section if you would like more information on this
  4. Ongoing symptom tracker.  It’s vital to keep a diary of both the signs of laminitis, as well as signs of any underlying diseases such as Equine Cushing’s or EMS. You can note these alongside your activity records, or you can record them in the Care About Cushing’s online diary. It’s always worth checking in with your vet if you spot any signs of laminitis, and including a review of your symptom tracker in your horse’s regular vet check-ups if they have been diagnosed with Equine Cushing’s or EMS.
  5. Daily food diary.  Keeping a record of the amount and type of food your horse has had access to is key in managing their weight and body fat score. Each delivery of hay is different, so ideally you should have analysis done on each batch to check sugar levels etc. However, this isn’t always possible.  One simple thing you can do to ensure you are feeding an appropriate amount of hay is to always weigh each hay net. This will stop the amount of hay gradually creeping up (or down) over time, and combined with weigh tape recording will allow you to know if your feeding regime is optimal and tweak it accordingly.


Monitoring your horse is a crucial step in ensuring that they continue to be happy and active for a long time. It is something we all do instinctively but writing down your findings allows you to track changes that your memory may play tricks with, and to see the impact of any changes you make to your horse’s diet, exercise or treatment regime.

Making small changes can have large impacts – the best way to assess these is by recording the change and then recording the effect. Why not Log onto your “My Yard” now to get familiar with it and make sure your horse’ details are up to date?

Enjoy the spring!