Horse Owner's Experience With Laminitis Emphasizes Importance of Education Laminitis Conference Open to Owners, Trainers, Veterinarians, and Farriers

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Posted by Sue Weakley for Phelps Media Group


Karen Lucca and Cinnamon Spice
Karen Lucca and Cinnamon Spice
Wellington, FL - Karen Lucca of Loxahatchee, FL, believes that her horse, Cinnamon Spice, is alive today because of an educated veterinarian and farrier, but she said she wished she had known more about the laminitis the mare suffers from before it had become so advanced. The International Equine Conference of Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot will offer an in-depth educational program for owners, managers, trainers and technicians in West Palm Beach, FL from Nov. 1-3. It will be a valuable experience for owners like Lucca who are interested in learning how best to care for their horses. Lucca said she became interested in horses later in life and did not own one until she was in her 40s. "I didn't realize that the symptoms she was showing was laminitis," Lucca said. "I thought she had a [foot] abscess.""I've had her for eight years and never had a major issue with her," Lucca said of the 14.2-hand Arabian Quarter Horse mare. "She did have a [foot] abscess back in December and we took care of that and then she was back to normal. Then, she started acting kind of the same way so I thought she had an abscess again. Her hoof didn't look right so I called the farrier, Bill Tisnower, out. He said, 'It looks like there's a white line. You need to get the vet out here.' So, we called the vet, and that's when he did the x-rays and she did have some rotation."
Spice had foundered on both front feet. 
"If I had known how to recognize it, I would have gotten the treatment a lot more quickly," Lucca said.
Organizers for the Laminitis Conference scheduled for Nov. 1-3 in West Palm Beach, FL, believe that education for horse owners, trainers, veterinarians, and farriers is the key to helping horses go on to lead happy, healthy lives after suffering from laminitis or other diseases of the hoof.
"Education would help vets and farriers, but it would be helpful for just the general horse owners too," Lucca said. She has been involved in horse rescue and said she was worried after learning Spice's diagnosis that the mare would have to be put down.
"It was scary," she said. "I have been around rescue horses and often by the time they come to the rescue, they have to be euthanized. That was my biggest fear."
And that's where her veterinarian, Dr. Axel Beccar-Varela of Reid and Associates Equine Medicine and Surgery in Loxahatchee, FL, came in. He calmed her fears and educated her. "He thought outside the box," she said. "His first priority was her comfort."
That's exactly what his goals were. "With laminitic horses, the main thing is to get them stable and minimize pain, Beccar-Varela said. "Then, there are different kinds of support we can use to improve their comfort. We are more likely to try the standard types of support, and if that doesn't go anywhere, then we go to more complicated and expensive ways to treat them. In her case, the first thing we tried were those Easyboot® or Soft-Ride® boots. They are simple to use, reasonably priced and reduce the pain associated with sore feet. She initially responded pretty positively and then, after a week or week and a half, we had to move on to the next option."
After they tried the boots, Beccar-Varela and Lucca's farrier trimmed the mares hooves and put wooden "clogs" on her to allow the ability to adjust her weight so she could ease some of the pain of standing. 
Her prognosis is good. Spice now eats a low-carbohydrate feed and soaked Timothy hay. The mare is also on a weight-loss regime so she can regain her once girlish figure.
"He thinks we will be able to ride her," Lucca said.
Lucca said that she learned so much about laminitis and believes that not only horse professionals, but all horse owners could learn a lot from the Laminitis Conference in West Palm Beach, FL, on Nov. 1-3.
"It would be helpful for the average horse owner to learn the different signs," she said. Lucca said she now knows that Spice will be more susceptible to the disease and it is something the owner will have to watch for the rest of the horse's life.
"To go to a conference like that and to learn from it going forward − that would be great," Lucca said. "And it's not just for the professionals, it's for the general public and horse owner."
Beccar-Varela is also impressed that the conference brings together and educates both veterinarians and farriers building a team to manage the horse with laminitis.
"This laminitis conference is one of the only conferences in the world that is actually open to not only vets or only farriers, but vets and farriers working together," he said. "I think that it opens the door to discussions and there's certainly always something to be learned from these discussions."
"When you have so many different options and so many treatments and you go on the Internet and there are a thousand different things, it is very, very difficult for owners to know what to do  and what not to do," he continued. "And what this is basically telling you is that the truth about laminitis is that there is no one treatment that fits every case. Unfortunately, each horse or each type of laminitis will respond to each treatment just a little differently and that's why opening these discussions between farriers and owners and veterinarians is so important."
To learn more about the Laminitis Conference, go to http://laminitisconference.com/.
About the Laminitis Conference
The Laminitis Conference provides innovative and useful programs for veterinarians, farriers, horse owners, managers, trainers, and technicians. Attendees receive the latest, most advanced scientific and practical information, including the newest research and techniques used in the treatment of laminitis and other diseases of the foot. It is a valuable opportunity to network with colleagues and peers. Plus, new this year- the Horse Owners Program with a focus on the wellness of the horse provides an opportunity for owners, trainers and barn managers to talk to the experts.All the Conference's events, activities, entertainment and meals are included in the registration.
The mission of the Laminitis Conference is to engage veterinarians, farriers, caretakers and the greater equine community in a collaborative effort to advance, expand and disseminate knowledge through research and collective experiences to effectively prevent and treat Equine Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot.
The conference will include:
• The latest research and scientific information on laminitis
• A clinical focus on moving from the laboratory to the horse
• Attendee poster session for the "sharing" of new ideas for future innovations by attendees
• Scholarships and competitive poster program for the next generation of veterinarians from Schools and Colleges of Veterinary Medicine across North America and around the world
• A dedicated foot segment for farriers,veterinarians and others interested in the current trends and treatment of foot problems
• An in-depth program for horse owners, managers, trainers and technicians
Fast Facts: 2013 International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot
When: Nov. 1-3, 2013
Where: Marriott Convention Center
1001 Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida 33401 USA
To Register Now: Click here