How Laminil helped my laminitic horses

January 28, 2018

 

Robin and Kurt gallop Dec. 26, 2017 (Kurt, the white one, is barefoot; both are bute free)

 

I finally got to try Laminil cream on my horses’ laminitic feet beginning in June 2017, and the improvement is dramatic.

I’m using it on my last two horses, both geldings that turned 22 in 2018.

Laminil has stopped the laminitis and allowed my horses’ feet to heal in the most extreme of weather conditions, both hot and cold, and in horses that are severely insulin resistant.

Robin Hood was diagnosed with laminitis around 2006, and his feet have suffered a lot of damage as a result.

Here are his available X-rays from his left foot.

 

 

Kurt has been plagued by laminitic abscesses since 2011, and his refined body has gotten quite lumpy in recent years, revealing his endocrine issues.

 

 

Thanks to Laminil cream, both horses are now off bute. That alone feels like a miracle. The horses are standing all the time and moving around comfortably, even being playful.

In June 2017, prior to Laminil, they were on 1 to 1.5 grams of bute, primarily to ease pain in their back feet (boots don’t seem to fit the back feet well). Robin Hood (the bay) was uncomfortable even on that amount of bute. In most of his pre-Laminil video, he is lying down and looks miserable.

 

Pre-Laminil: Robin stays off his sore feet June 7, 2017

 

Pre-Laminil: Robin walks in shavings June 6, 2017, with 1.5 grams bute

 

Pre-Laminil: Robin walks June 8, 2017, with 1.5 grams of bute

 

Kurt responds well to bute if he isn’t on it for long stretches, and he looked fairly decent in his pre-Laminil video on a gram of bute, but photos of his feet told the real story. Ignore the penny in the image below. It was intended as a measuring device, but it didn’t seem necessary in the end.

 

Kurt’s feet before and after Laminil treatment

 

Now (Jan. 27, 2018), Kurt is pasture-sound and barefoot.

As you watch the videos below, note that the horses are 22 and haven’t been asked to do anything in years. When I asked Robin to trot, he said, “What?”

 

Post-Laminil: Kurt walks without any bute on Jan. 26, 2018

 

Robin Hood is still wearing his boots, but he walks well out of them. He’s been in boots since 2012. He’s not convinced he wants to give them up.

 

Post-Laminil: Robin walks Jan. 26, 2018, with no bute and no boots

 

Below are PDFs of the front feet showing the changes in the horses’ feet. I originally took photos every week. It’s very time consuming. Now, I do it every other week or when I can. I also am doing timelines of the back feet.

 

PDF: Kurt’s right front through January 2018
PDF: Kurt’s left front through January 2018
PDF: Robin’s right front through January 2018
PDF: Robin’s left front through January 2018

 

I like to follow the left photo in the PDFs as I scroll down. Note that the stretched white line at the toes has closed; the hoof wall is starting to meet the ground at the toes, the hoof walls all the way around, as seen from the bottom, are thicker and stronger; longtime abscesses are finally healing; and more normal sole is growing. And how did I suddenly get bars to grow? Laminil gets all the credit for that. The feet have had almost no bars since 2013, when I started trimming them.

If your farrier or vet is puzzled by my trimming, the answer is that I have no training, though I try to follow the ELPO trim. I don’t pretend to be an expert or even good. I’m terrified. But I trim at least every other weekend to keep the feet from growing out of control.

Robin Hood’s inside walls have been collapsing in recent years; those are now straightening out.

 

Robin’s left medial (inside) hoof wall  is straightening out

 

Robin’s stretched white line at the toe is healing (this is the right front)

 

The horses came through the brutally cold winter of 2017-2018 in Missouri without losing any ground. Temperatures near zero have set off many “winter laminitis” bouts for them in the past.

The horses galloped through a little snow on Dec. 26 (see video at the top of this post), which was really fun to see. I hadn’t seen them trot for months, much less gallop. What isn’t obvious in the video is the wind chill was zero. I took the video from inside. The ground was frozen, even with the snow. Near-zero and sub-zero temps continued for two weeks. And another week of brutal cold set in a week later.

The horses are getting a dab of Laminil cream on the front and back of their hooves at the coronary band every other day. Originally, I was putting cream around the whole coronary band to address their laminitis bout in June. Now, this lesser amount of Laminil cream continues to foster healing.

Note that their feet have continued to heal even as their insulin resistance worsened from May 2017 to now. I’m totally failing on that front. I can’t find low-iron hay consistently now.

From the knee up, the horses look stressed.

From the knee down, they look good.

 

From the knee up, Kurt looks endocrine challenged

Kurt on Jan. 21, 2018. after three weeks of brutally cold weather. His hair and overall body condition appeared to worsen during that stretch, while his feet continued to heal.

Kurt on Jan. 21, 2018. after three weeks of brutally cold weather. His hair and overall body condition appeared to worsen during that stretch, while his feet continued to heal.

 

Also, St. Louis had an extremely hot June and July 2017, with eight days of temps over 100 degrees and a record-setting high of 108 degrees. Extreme heat is also very stressful for laminitic feet. Yet, the boys’ feet kept improving during that time, and I made a couple of mistakes that could have proved disastrous.

A little back story on my involvement with Laminil:

Laminil was developed by farrier Charlie Owen and the company he founded, Willowcroft Pharm. I have followed Charlie’s work for years after finding his patent for a mast cell stabilizer during a search online.

I figured out maybe in 2004 that my horses’ laminitis was a systemic reaction, not unlike an allergic reaction, since two of my horses developed weeping sores during their laminitic bouts and their coats always looked awful. It wasn’t just their feet falling apart. They were falling apart. We had tried all the usual options: pergolide, thyroid powder, biotin, magnesium. Nothing was working. In fact, one time I took my mare Stitches off everything all at once at my vet’s request to let her body reset, and she improved rapidly with all that stuff out of her system.

I spent hours researching ways to stop an allergic reaction. I found Charlie’s patent in 2009 or 2010. It was the only product that fit the description in relation to a laminitic horse.

I was a newspaper journalist for most of my career. I served as a reporter and editor many times, but I mostly laid out newspapers and then learned web design as a hobby.

In 2013, I checked in with Charlie and asked how Laminil was progressing. He asked me if I would help him find horses for a clinical trial, and I created a simple website so we could post an announcement that he needed owners to sign up. As many of you know, the response was overwhelming. He was swamped with requests.

I didn’t try to put my horses in the trial because Charlie requested that the cause of the laminitis be identified and removed. I didn’t know the cause then; even now, I’m still not 100 percent sure it’s iron overload, though removing iron from the horses’ diet does make them improve.

I hoped the boys would live long enough to try Laminil since my four previous laminitic horses had all been put down. I wanted one victory at this farm before I walked away.

In 2016, eventer John Kelly took over as CEO of Willowcroft, and the company developed a cream version of Laminil, in addition to Laminil Perfusion. Laminil came to market in 2017. The perfusion is an instant treatment, whereas the cream takes a few weeks to do the same thing. However, the cream seems more suited to my situation of chronic laminitis (the more accurate term now is subacute or persistent laminitis) due to insulin resistance on a farm where no effort has stopped the laminitis. I thought something that I could keep applying would be ideal.

John started using Laminil on his own eventing horse (a thoroughbred with typical feet: thin walls and soles), and he’s been really impressed with his own results.

I haven’t met Charlie or John in person. We’ve talked on the phone a few times. We are all aligned in our love of horses and our desire to save every horse with laminitis.

In January 2017, I found some very low iron hay, and my horses’ health improved significantly in two months. I hoped they were on the path to normalcy finally and I stopped thinking about trying Laminil. But it all went south in May and June 2017 when that hay ran out. The horses got lumpy overall and suffered new bouts of laminitis.

John asked if I wanted to try Laminil on the boys. Yes.

My vet’s practice called in the prescription to the U.S. pharmacy, and I started applying Laminil on Thursday, June 8, after work.

The horses’ feet were really hot by this point, and Robin was lying down most of the time.

By Saturday morning, June 10, the heat was gone from their feet.

That was really impressive, as was the horses’ immediate improvement in walking.

To be clear on any conflicts of interest, I have continued to provide free web design work for John, and I also edit together and post video of horses treated with Laminil that has been emailed from vets, farriers and owners. In exchange, I am being given the Laminil for free. But I’m evaluating it as any of you would. I want to give others quality feedback on whether this will work on their horse. Given that Laminil is working on my horses, which many people have told me to put down, I think Laminil is worth a shot for anyone with a laminitic horse.

Getting back to the mistakes I made in 2017, as mentioned earlier.

My farrier skills are very limited, and I struggled as the horses’ feet starting growing more normally. The feet experienced a lot of sole growth, especially the chalky white false sole that farriers often describe. I had not seen false sole in my horses’ laminitic feet since I started trimming them. The sole area also seemed to have a marked increase in blood flow, and I didn’t know how to trim with these changes; trying to exfoliate the sole often produced blood. My trimming experience has been reining in runaway growth at the front of the toe and in the heels. Exfoliating a sole was completely foreign to me.

I probably caused some abscessing by not removing the false sole and having the horses stand directly on it.

Making Robin stand on his sole in boots had been a successful strategy in 2013 when he was at his worst. It unweighted his detached walls. I guess he didn’t have much blood flow or feeling in the sole area.

Once Laminil stopped the inflammation process in 2017, and blood started to flow, Robin didn’t want to stand on his sole anymore, even in boots.

And then there was my biggest mistake, though I was trying to do the right thing. Summer 2017 was the first year I decided to leave my horses out of their boots during the day, because they stand in the shavings in their shed during the day with four fans and a cooler keeping that building cool, and I didn’t want their feet cooking in their boots.

Unfortunately, there was no rain most of the year. The horses’ feet got rock hard in the dry heat standing in the shavings. And then I left them standing on all that healthy new false sole, which turned into concrete, and they developed abscesses that couldn’t find their way out of the hard hooves. The horses got sore.

I finally figured it out.

On Friday, Sept. 8, I started applying a ton of hand cream to their feet over several hours (I’m not a fan of soaking feet). I saw a teeny bit of improvement by evening, so I kept that up, switching to coconut oil at some point over Saturday and Sunday and then back to the cream, which actually works better. Kurt’s abscesses came out in a ring around his toes. Robin’s came out in his toes and coronary bands.

I did take the horses off Laminil during the hand cream application and for several weeks afterward. I put the feet back in boots full time to keep some moisture in, and I tried to unload the sore abscess holes with creative inserts in the boots. If I had to do it again, I’d restart Laminil as soon as I stopped applying the hand cream.

If you look at the photos in September and October, the feet didn’t develop any new flares or more stretched white line. The benefits of Laminil remained.

Also, we made the decision to keep the horses on bute when starting Laminil. John has explained to me that bute and the active ingredient in Laminil are both interacting with the immune system. The trade-off to keeping a horse on bute when using Laminil is the active ingredient in Laminil may be less effective. With acute cases, pain reduction with bute is more important. When I started using Laminil, the horses saw immediate improvement in their feet (in their comfort and the hoof temperature), but subsequent improvement in hoof growth was uneven.

I took the horses off bute Nov. 7. Then, improvement seemed more linear.

The horses are now seeing steady weekly improvement that is easy to see in the photos. I cannot believe the changes.

In summary, applying Laminil cream regularly has stopped my horses’ laminitis and improved their feet dramatically, though I have had to become a better farrier because a poor trim can create its own problems. Laminil has worked well in preventing bouts of winter laminitis and heat-related laminitis over the past year. My horses do their best when they are eating low-iron hay, though finding such hay requires an extensive amount of testing and a steady hay supplier; I don’t have the latter.

My plan is to keep the horses on Laminil until the end of their days. My hope is they get to have a few good years on their feet. A little more trotting and cantering would be an added treat for me.

I have had one goal through two decades of laminitis: to hang in there long enough for someone to come up with a treatment for laminitis, a way to stop the feet from falling apart.

We feel lucky and grateful to see this day.

Thank you, Charlie and John.

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