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Understanding Laminitic Stretch

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Laminitis is an inflammatory disease that originates in the gut, more specifically the lower intestine, going on to affect the entire body but particularly the feet. The term Laminitis refers to inflammation of the Laminae within a horse’s hoof and the separation of the hoof from the horse.

In simple terms, the Laminae is a network of dermal and epidermal structures that interlock with each other to form a bond between the hoof wall and the pedal bone, otherwise known as the P3 or coffin bone. When Laminitis occurs, the structure that encapsulates the pedal bone fails and becomes stretched. Jaime Jackson's book 'Laminitis: an equine plague of unconscionable proportions' goes into this in much more depth.

Laminitic stretch refers to the Lamini or white line stretching, which is what we can see below. In this instance, the stretch caused a straight slipper toe which is where the toe becomes very long and the heels under run.

Severe Laminitic stretch shown by the red markings

A healthy, non-laminitic horse should have a white line, pale yellow to off white in colour and roughly 2-4 millimetres wide. There should be no stretching or blood in the white line.

An example of a healthy white line.

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