Equine Laminitis is caused by the damaging of the Laminae in the horses foot, leading to tenderness and a horse favoring that foot. Damaging of the Laminae can be caused by traumatic events, such as getting kicked by another horse, or can be caused by certain foods that are fed to the horse which can upset their digestive system. In some cases, laminitis can be so harmful or prominent that the tissues found in the hoof are so damaged that they actually give way, releasing the coffin bone from its original place and can even go through the bottom of the hoof itself. This releasing of the coffin bone due to laminitis is called founder. Once the laminae are dead, they cannot regrow. Therefore founder cannot get better, but is always a chronic condition of that horse after it occurs. Horses that have suffered from founder will need corrective shoeing for the rest of their life to keep them sound, depending on the severity of the founder there are many different methods for this, which are discussed in this article.
As equestrian science and medicine improve so do the chances of a horse who has suffered from a more extreme case of founder to have a successful recovery. Corrective shoeing can keep a horse who has had a slight case of founder problem free, and can continue normally with his life and be ridden again. However, horses with the most extreme cases often are beyond the point of no return. Their coffin bone has rotated and shifted so far that the horse’s coffin bone is actually sticking through the bottom of the horses hoof, and no matter how much corrective shoeing is done the horse eventually has to be euthanized.
All owners should be aware of founder and laminitis in horses, and should be aware that even though a horse might be sound after he is lame there will always be a risk of founder and you should keep a very close eye on the horse's leg.