This is an especially exciting and important post for me. Last April, while in Warrenton, MO to do my Special Topics/Advanced Trimming workshop for Liberated Horsemanship, we all had the privilege of hearing Dr. Don Walsh of the Animal Health Foundation give a presentation on a very real and very serious threat to our horses – laminitis. In fact, I was surprised and dismayed to learn that complications due to laminitis make it the Number 2 killer of horses.
If you’ve never had the experience of seeing a laminitic or foundered horse, consider yourself fortunate. Seeing these beautiful creatures in constant pain, often recumbent and very discouraged, is the most heartbreaking type of situation I routinely encounter. The only “saving grace” for me is the very substantial difference in comfort and recovery proper hoof care (not, I hasten to say, the hoof care methods advocated by nearly every vet and farrier) can make in the lives of these horses, and watching them start to move with considerably less difficulty and pain is extremely rewarding. But, as Dr. Walsh pointed out, like so many other maladies affecting both humans and animals, the key to success lies in prevention. And prevention, in turn, requires education and awareness. To that end, Dr. Walsh has developed a risk assessment tool that uses five (5) lifestyle and management factors he and his researchers have identified as reliable indicators of the likelihood of a horse developing laminitis. And while the calorie calculations for the diet part of the assessment aren’t particularly difficult to perform, I felt the entire process could be greatly simplified by developing an MS Excel workbook that would enable every horse owner to get a better handle on these risk factors. The workbook is extremely easy to use, and incorporates calorie information from over 100 commercial feeds. Answering just a few simple questions will allow the horse owner to not only assess the risk for laminitis, but also better understand the real dietary needs of his/her horse.
Follow the link below, and download the appropriate MS Excel file to your computer. There are two versions under the link – a 2007 version for the typical newer PC, and a 97-2003 version for the Mac and older versions of MS Excel. Rather than opening the file directly in MS Excel, I recommend you first Save the file to your computer or flash drive, and then Open it from the saved location. There are no macros in it, but I’ve protected it to ensure no corruption of the data or formulas, which is why it won’t open directly within the browser. Feel free to copy it and share it with every horse owner you know. Awareness starts with you. Spread the word. Save some horses. But, most importantly, use it yourself. Remember: it’s not about you – it’s about your horse.
I especially want to thank Dr. Walsh for providing the commercial feed data – it really helped make the workbook easier to use. And mostly I want to thank him for his seemingly tireless dedication to eradicating laminitis. Visit his site, and, if you agree, please consider making a donation…
And I welcome any comments or suggestions you may have on how the workbook could be improved.