Is Cold Laminitis & Founder a real thing?

Written by: Jenna Tranter

Published on: 11/22/2022

On a few occasions our wonderful customer service team has encountered both conversations and disagreements on our content about cold founder, what it is, and if it is actually a real thing. If you have been following our blogs we have already covered laminitis, founder and critical care for acute laminitis if you need some more background information on laminitis and found itself. It’s time to take a deep dive into cold founder and dispel any myths.

Is this real or an old wives tale?

Winter laminitis and founder are most certainly a real thing and not an old wives tale. We almost always associate laminitis and founder with sugars, rich diets, and access to lush pasture but cold can also induce laminitis and founder. You might notice it a bit differently than the traditional ‘laminitis stance’. It can start and present almost like an abscess would-sudden onset of obvious hoof pain for no apparent reason. Once a horse or pony has experienced winter laminitis it’s likely to occur year after year.

What Actually happens when cold laminitis or founder occurs?

The normal reaction of the horse’s body during cold exposure can be to increase or decrease blood supply to the hoof. This allows the average horse to warm or cool his or her hooves as necessary. If oxygen supply becomes too low in the hoof, the normal equine’s body will periodically open up their blood vessels again to increase blood supply. If these vessels do not periodically re-open, blood supply can be so reduced that it will cause pain (think about how your feet feel when you jump down too fast after a ride in the cold weather).

If the vascular system in the hoof is damaged from previous laminitic or founder episodes, or the horse has hormonal issues this system of turning blood flow ‘off and on’ may not occur. High insulin or Cortisol can also play a role- high levels of either can make the vessels more sensitive to constriction. Horses with metabolic conditions are always at a higher risk of developing any type of founder or laminitis whether it be traditional laminitis or cold laminitis.

How can you prevent cold laminitis & founder?

If you have a horse that you believe is prone to cold laminitis or founder there are some steps you can take to help prevent an episode:

  • Ensure you are feeding a forage focused diet with low sugar and low starch concentrates if necessary
  • Omega 3’s and amino acids are both essential nutrients and can be supplemented to help keep hooves health and as a preventative.
  • Wrapping your horse’s legs all the way down to the coronary band may sound silly but it can help. Standing bandages are a great option. If your horse is inside you can even throw a pair of shipping boots over top for extra warmth.
  • Try not to keep them out on that concrete aisle for too long- concrete zaps the heat out of hooves. If you don’t already have rubber mats in your aisle way and you have a cold affected horse these should be on your shopping list.
  • Going back to cold surfaces- deep bedding in stalls. Studies have shown that horses can often be seen digging their toes into bedding to angle their feet to take pressure off the rear of the hoof capsule and creating an insulating layer around the entirety of the hoof capsule. If your going to use the deep bedding/litter method don’t forget to maintain hygiene in the stall.
  • Some extreme cases actually require the actual hoof capsule to be insulated. In these scenarios it’s time to get creative with insulating materials and hoof boots.

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Equine


✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Meet Jenna Tranter

Jenna Tranter is Smart Earth Camelina Corp's equine nutritionist. She is the owner and operator of Four Corners Equestrian and has been involved in the industry for over 20 years.

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About the Author

Jenna is a lifelong equestrian and lover of all animals big and small. She has both studied and worked within the industry for 20+ years in both the feed sector as well as being a coach and hunter/jumper facility owner with time spent in the UK and Canada. She holds a number of equine certifications from universities in both countries. She also has completed numerous courses in equine body work, including equi-bow, but is not a practitioner at this time due to there just not being enough time in the day! Jenna lives on her farm in Ontario, Canada with her husband, 19 horses, 2 goats, a flock of ducks, a flock of chickens, her barn cats and her 3 loyal dogs, Bosco, Evaa & Eeyore.