Any great treatments for founder?

Help Support CattleToday:


Well-known member
Apr 7, 2004
Reaction score
I have a pony that foundered in the winter on just plain grass hay - no grain. She is now only allowed very little pasture or hay a day. I have her on MSM daily and I really think it might be helping a little for her lameness. Just wondering if some of you have something to try that has worked for you?
A lot of questions come to mind with this problem. The first being, has the vet seen the pony? Is the pony overweight? How severe was the founder? Has the coffin bone rotated? Has it pushed down on the sole of the foot? Is the pony still showing signs of pain, like standing with the front feet out in front of him?
They can founder for many reasons, colic, other illnesses. that throw the system out, worms. It would be best to investigate how the founder occured in the first place in order to take steps to make sure that it won't happen again. If he is like most ponies, he'll be a robust eater and will be overweight, so limiting his intake is not only important in preventing another occurance, but also to get that extra weight off those feet. 2/3 of a horse's weight comes down on his front feet.
The best prognosis for this kind of thing is to do something right away. By your message, this happened last winter and now its 6 months later, so I'm thinking that if you didn't call the vet for advice at the time then you are left to manage what the severity of the founder has caused. The vet at the time of occurance will determine just how much rotation of the coffin bone has happened, prescribe pain killers, such as Bute and then the farrier plays a big part in pain control by putting on shoes with elevated heels. A vet has told me that MSM is not good to use long term, that it should be used specifically for a certain treatment and then move on from it. If the pony is still showing signs of pain, please call a vet and have his condition assessed. If you find it difficult to manage this pony's pasture time during the day, there are special attachments to the halter that slow down the grass intake that gets thru it and you can turn him out normally with it on and be able to rest assured that he is not pigging out while he's out there. But I urge you to call a vet if you haven't already. Founder is serious, dibilitating and extremely painful. My heart goes out to him.....good luck.
In reply to your questions. Yes , I have had 3 different vets look at her. Yes, she was very over weight. She has dropped down to a pretty good weight now. She still has a little crested neck. She was on thyroid meds to see if it helped. ( her thyroid was off very little when tested). I have used bute or banamine when it is real bad. Right now she doesn't show pain. The farrier said she could see where it has pushed into the sole a little. I can't really exercise her much as she has an injury from a few years ago in her hip from being kicked by another horse. I had her on gluco/chondroitin most of the winter.Maybe that could possibly be contributing to founder? Sugars or ? I put her on msm because I learned it was an anti imflamatory. She gets the best care possible! She is on a worming program . I have also noticed that she would go lame about 2-3 days after almost every cold spell so I started blanketing her more in the winter, especially when it went below -10. Thanks for your help! Let me know if you can think of anything else!
That's interesting about her going lame after a cold spell. How cold was the cold spell? Enough to stiffen the ground? That would add to the pain on her soles. If not, then the only other thing that I can think of is arthritis bothering her. How old is she? The MSM may be a bit hard on her, long term, but, no, the shark and gluc won't cause her to founder. I know that from experience. Just expensive! And I don't know if it really works or not, some people say it does, but It didn't for me with a friend's horse that boarded here and I cared for her for a year after she got off the operating table from a kicked hock that was broken in 3 places. The consistancy of her fluid was good each time the vet withdrew a sample. In her case it was the fact that the fluid has to wash into and on out of the joint. It was coming in o.k., but couldn't drain fast enough and would build up and puff out the joint pockets causing tension and pain. As soon as the vet drained it, it was like a miracle, cause she was suddenly sound and pain-free. A week later, it would build up again though and we were right back to square one again. So the glocosamine didn't help us.
The experts have decided that one of the best treatments for founder is to put them up on heeled shoes to take the strain off the sole and the back of the foot. I'm surprised that the vet didn't tell you to call the farrier in to do this, right at the beginning. They've sure found that it helps with the pain.
Maybe another assessment is in order, another set of xrays and see if raising the heels will help at this point or not. If she is in pain from founder, then I believe it will help. If you are finding her lame during cold spells, I would skip the blanket and let her winter hair do its job. It will do the job quite well. (as long as her coat is dry) I would bandage her legs instead. Nice big puffy-type sheets under elastic-type wraps. Keeps out moisture, cold, promotes blood flow down the leg and keeps them toasty warm too. It will also help a lot with supporting her legs. Remember, if a horse is favouring one leg, then bandage it and also the leg beside it,cause you can be sure that if she is favouring the bad leg, then the good one is going to take a beating. Gotta keep the good leg good so it can help with the bad one. Good luck.
Kelly - If I hadn't known better I might have thought I'd wrote your posts about one of my mares, a 14 yr old 14H QH mare. Her founder started 2 yrs ago in the spring after I fertilized. This horse can get fat just looking at grass. This not only started her founder occurances but she now also gets stiff in cold weather. Cold here in Texas means in the 30-40 degree F range. She is also on Thyroid meds since the initial founder case. We now keep her stalled most of the day. She gets about 10 lbs of hay twice a day and a handful of sweetfeed twice a day, just enough to get her meds down. She comes out in the eveing for 2-3 hours with a grazing muzzle on. We exercize her for about 30 minutes just before we put her up with either ground work or riding. The vet says this exercize is an important part of her program. Plus she goes for a 2-3 hour trail ride once a week, weather permitting and if shes feeling okay. She usually really likes and wants to go on her trail rides though after being couped up all week. We also have her front feet xray'd once a year with our farrier there when it is done. The vet AND farrier review the xrays and then shoe her accordingly. I check her hooves almost daily and clean when needed to keep pressure off of the sole since this can restrict blood flow.

I also use a concocktion my farrier recommends to help prevent infection in the hoof. Let me know if you want more info on it.
Thanks for the replys! Yes , I would like more info on the treatment your farrier uses. I really wish I could exercise her more for her health and boredom but, she has a click in her hip each time she steps from an injury a couple years ago and also an injury in the same foot ( happened the same time from a mare that beat her up) So I don't know how much to exercise her without making more problems. Our cold temps here are 20 to 30 below zero! I wish I was dealing with your cold temps - life would be so much more comfortable then!
The concocktion our farrier recommends is to help keep infection out when the hoof wall has some separation or seedy toe. It consists of about 3 onces of iodine and an ounce of turpintine mixed into a pint of pinetar. This is then applied all the way around the top of the hoof at the cornet band. Be sure to get the back of the heel also. This stuff will soak into and migrate down the hoof wall.

I certainly don't know how uncomfortable it is for your horse to move but the exercise is important. Even if you just take her out and lead her around the pasture for a bit. Eventually working up to about 20-30 minutes at a fast walk a couple of times or even once a day or whatever shes comfortable with. My bet is that she would enjoy the outings and would let you know the intensity level she was comfortable with.

Latest posts