The bad thing about founder is that it's an expensive and devastating disease that causes intense pain and all too often leads to euthanasia. The good thing is that new research and alternative treatments are improving the odds of beating it.
In my August 2002 Practical Horseman article "Fight Founder Holistically," I explained an approach to founder that combines conventional veterinary medicine with a safe, holistic program using items available online or at your local feed or health-food store. The following excerpt suggests helpful additions to your founder-prone horse's diet.
My research has led me to conclude that in almost every chronic, hormonally based, diabetes-like or "cause unknown" founder, the horse needs help getting insulin into his cells. (One way to recognize this type of founder: The horse develops a cresty neck or sheds poorly.) Provide your horse that help by adding the following to his food daily:
Flaxseed, a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 and omega-5 fatty acids. You can feed as a couple of handfuls of whole, raw flaxseed (available from livestock or wild-bird feed stores), 4 to 6 ounces of good-quality stabilized flax meal (available online froom Advanced Biological Concepts) or three to four tablespoons of flaxseed oil (from your health-food store's refrigerated section). Be sure to keep the oil refrigerated--and don't attempt to grind your own; it will oxidize and go rancid almost instantly. If your horse tends to be a bit "funny" about new tastes, start with a small amount and gradually increase.
Chromium picolinate, four 500-mg capsules a day (available over the counter in drugstores and supermarket pharmacy departments). This mineral aids glucose and insulin metabolism-as does...
Magnesium citrate (available in health-food stores). Give 1 to 3 mg daily.
Loose, free-choice, salt-free minerals (available online from Advanced Biological Concepts and also in some feed stores). Make sure the minerals are salt-free so your horse can eat all he wants; provide separate free-choice salt as well.
At her Harmany Equine Clinic in Washington, Va., veterinarian Joyce Harman uses traditional veterinary medicine plus acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and other alternatives to treat patients from Novice eventers to Grand Prix dressage horses. A past president of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, she chaired the Theapeutic Options subcommittee of the American Association of Equine Practitioners for two years.
For Dr. Harman's tips on supporting foundered hooves for pain relief, read Holistic Help for Foundered Feet. Plus, she answers reader's questions in EquiSearch.com's Ask the Vet section.
Read about the latest research on preventing lamilnitis and founder with weight-loss medication in Practical Horseman's June 2007 Health Update.