Founder Chronicles

Founder Chronicles: We fight back

Founder Chronicles 1: Killer Lameness Strikes
Times have changed since my mother’s horse died when her coffin bone exited through the sole of her hoof in the 1980’s. These days, if you catch founder early and treat it right, your horse can survive and lead a productive life. Those words of encouragement from our veterinarian were worth more than gold to us. Bonnie had a chance. I would not have believed it unless someone told me because Bonnie stood in the darkest corner of her stall, unable to move because her feet hurt so badly. Our veterinarian prescribed phenylbutazone (“bute”) and ixosoprene, traditional anti-inflammatory, painkilling and circulation enhancing drugs. We called the gravel company and ordered a load of coarse sand, stripped her stall, and bedded her in 12 inches of sand. The bute relieved much of Bonnie’s pain, but she was still depressed. She was banned from eating anything but grass hay, and was now locked in the barn, on strange, scratchy bedding, away from her friends. We began a rotation of equine baby sitters, but Bonnie remained sad. Our athletic little pistol of a friend was only a shadow of her former self.
(Tomorrow: Encouragement, more remedies)

Founder Chronicles: Killer lameness strikes

One early summer in 2005, we haltered Bonnie, the little bay Morgan mare who stars in my novel, Winning Bet, and walked her out of her stall for her daily turnout with the other horses. Strangely, Bonnie was tender in her front feet. We turned Bonnie out anyway, because minor lamenesses often heal themselves. By that afternoon however, Bonnie, normally athletic and spirited, could barely walk down the gravel aisle of our barn back to her stall. We dreaded what we already knew. Bonnie had foundered. Our veterinarian visited the next day and confirmed the diagnosis. Also known as laminitis, founder is a horribly painful condition involving inflammation of the internal support tissues in the hoof. As founder works its course, the condition can become so bad that the arrowhead-shaped coffin bone in the hoof begins to work its way downward through the hoof sole. My mother’s horse died this way. I swallowed hard and tried not to cry, but the grim faces of another client veterinarian and vet student told me the truth. We were in trouble. Would Bonnie die the painful death of my mother’s horse?
(Next: We fight back)

(Read about Bonnie, a real-life horse character in the novel Winning Bet, available in paperback and on the Amazon Kindle.)