Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

Linda Cowles Hoof Care - Serving the greater SF Bay Area and Northern California

Home Services ArticlesCase Studies Links

Laminitis Symptoms

Laminitis is a disease of the digital laminae of the hoof. The digital laminae are responsible for suspension coffin bone within the hoof, and dissipate concussive forces during locomotion. There are about 600 pairs of interleaved laminae: the epidermal laminae attached to the hoof wall and the dermal laminae attached to the coffin bone.

Laminitis results from a compromise of this interaction. Laminitis literally means inflammation of the laminae.

Most horses with laminitis have it because of dietary excesses or a dietary imbalance, however a horse can experience a laminiti episode for many reasons.

Laminitis episodes can range from very mild (tender walking on gravel) to complete hoof wall separation and sole penetration.


Coronet band symptoms

  • Coronet area becomes soft and warm, and you can palpate areas above wall separation and feel separation
  • Hair stands up in coronet area when there is loss of wall connection (ie “rotation”).
  • Can start to see actual separation and coronet stretching
  • Abscesses vent in the coronet area (emerging vents can often be felt when Coronet is palpated)

Wall symptoms

  • Wall starts to bunch up at the top of the wall in front; growth rings crowd together
  • Growth rings become prominent and start to fan out toward the heel area
  • Heel seems to grow excessively resulting in tall heels
  • Wall separation at the coronet band
  • The wall feels warmer than usual
  • Horse has a “Bounding” digital pulse
  • Stretched white line
  • White line separation
  • Wall separation
  • Wall flare
  • Wall cracking and chipping
  • Thin, delicate looking walls

Sole symptoms

  • Abscesses that vent in the bar or white line area
  • Sole becomes tender or soft
  • Sole seems flatter (loss of concavity)
  • Thin, delicate looking sole
  • Bars sometimes become more prominent


  • Bounding digital pulse
  • Mild ulcer/gas/leaky gut syndrome
  • chronic thrush
  • Itchy skin
  • Excessive weight and cresty neck in conjunction with any of the above

Above and below, wall separation visible at the corronet band


Below, its sometimes possible to feel emerging abscess vents and wall detachment in the corronet band.


When the coffin bone does have a severe wall separation and decends into the hoof capsule, the hair in the corronet area will sometimes begin to stick out as opposed to laying flat.


Get used to locating your horses pulse. A normal horse's resting pulse is often hard to detect. To learn where to find it and what a strong pulse feels like, try to find a resting pulse, then lunge your horse for a few minutes and try again.

Abscesses will vent wherever there is a path of least resistance, and are a common occurance after a laminitis attack. The datrk cressent at the hairline, below, is an abscess vent.


Laminitis is "inflamation of the laminae" and that inflamation can be felt in the wall. Bare feet are always warmer than shod feet, and are warm after exercize, so its a good idea to get used to what feels normal for your forse.


This horse has had cronic laminitis, and the xrays show the detached coffin bone which has "rotated" away from the wall.



You can barely see the slight depression in the wall directly under the coronet band in this picture; that depression plus the abscess vents seen at the heels in both of these feet indicate that the horse experienced laminitis.



Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
Copyright 2008 Linda Cowles
Home | Contact Linda | Privacy | About Us