This study is addressing the frequency of laminitis in the horse population of Great Britain, this is important work, due to the inconsistent data from literature.  The purpose of the study is to “estimate frequencies of occurrence (incidence and prevalence) and describe clinical signs of active laminitis in the general horse population of Great Britain between 2009 and 2011”.

This study firstly presents the understanding that laminitis can be caused by a multitude of body problems, not simply sugar overdosing.  Laminitis can be caused by endocrinopathic problems, metabolic problems or systematic problems within the horse’s body.  The study describes laminitis symptoms as changing the shape of the hoof capsule, horse stance, gait and is considered in their study if they recover or if they experience founder. The study considers chronic laminitis to be a singular event, unless the horse fully recovers in between episodes.

Data was collected from 28 veterinary practise and had to be first person opinion and data regarding the laminitic episode.  This is important as some less serious cases of laminitis can be recovered from within a 48 – 72 hour period and in some cases the horse may be recovered before the vet has a chance to make it out the barn.  The study did not include owner testimony in its data.  This is decision may be slightly skewing the data as many horse owners have a solid understanding of what the symptoms of laminits look like, but I agree with this decision to only include veterinary opinion to make sure that the frequencies are not inflated.

The results of the study had 593 laminitis report forms turned in to the researchers, 21 animals had several forms turned in that were considered to be chronic cases, not repeated separate events.  Overall prevalence of the disease was reported to be 0.49% based on 48, 082 registered horses and overall incidence was considered to be 0.5 for every 100 horses.  However a second calculation method in the study found that incidence was 0.53 for every 100 horses are at risk.  It is interesting that May through June has the highest amount of laminitic events.  I am curious if this is related to the fast hoof growth that occurs in the spring.

The results from this study are much lower than what literature predicted, one study found that frequency was 12.5% and another suggested that it was 3%.  The research conducted in this study is suggested to be more accurate because it is a prospective cohort study.

The form that was provided to vets to turn in to the researchers was an effective tool for the veterinarians to communicate their findings with the research team.  If this form became more widely used and the data was inputted into a communal data sheet, researchers would have the ability to determine a more accurate understanding of the frequency of this disease.  Further, the study discusses how the definition of this disease needs to become clearer and universally defined in order to have accurate understanding of the frequency of reported incidents.

Wylie, C.E., et al. (2013). “A cohort study of equine laminitis in Great Britian 2009 – 2011: Estimation of disease frequency and description of clinical signs in 577 cases”. Equine Veterinary Journal, 45, 681-687.