Laminitis Conference: If It Takes a Vet-Farrier-Owner Team to Help a Horse Beat Laminitis, Why Are the Three Groups Always Educated Individually?

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Have you ever "seen" laminitis? This laminitis progression was documented over four weeks during the treatment of a horse with Potomac Horse Fever at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. It shows the process commonly known as P3 rotation and sinking, as well as 1) separation of the coffin bone from the anterior hoof wall and 2) decreasing sole depth.
This video was created by Dr. Andrew van Eps of the University of Queensland in Australia, who will be speaking at the Sixth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot.

The over-arching theme you hear at every laminitis lecture or workshop is that the success of a case depends on teamwork: a veterinarian, a farrier or trimmer, and a horse owner must all be willing to work together for the benefit of the horse. You could even say it is the laminitis mantra. It's also expandable, as anyone with a laminitic horse knows: the patient might also welcome a well-informed vet tech/nurse, a body worker, a chiropractor, a nutritionist and a pharmacist to join the team.

And yet, education about laminitis is done in separate meetings, and the body of information is filtered to each group: "This is your piece of the laminitis equation" and "Here is YOUR role in treating a case."

Imagine having dinner in a fine restaurant and being served by a waiter who had never looked over the chef's shoulder to see what the specials that day looked like or what was in them. Imagine a wine steward who only recommended wines she or he would like to taste that night, with no regard to what you have ordered for dinner.? And what about the chef--what if he or she never sets foot in the dining room?

You'd have a pretty dysfunctional meal ahead of you--if you were ever served at all.

And that's pretty much what many horses can expect to experience when and if they have the misfortune to suffer from laminitis.

The horse with laminitis is like the customer in that restaurant. If the chef, server, and wine steward don't know what the others are doing, and know nothing about the diner except how what is ordered affects them, the possibility of an enjoyable meal is lost.

The owner, the vet and the farrier/trimmer each know part of the story of laminitis but no one knows what the horse knows. And even if they are very skilled and knowledgeable about their own roles in the case, each party is usually not privy to the experiences of the others. To truly serve the horse, they have to know what the others are doing, and trust why they are doing it.

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Are you overwhelmed by information on laminitis? Here's a basic introduction to the disease provided by Petplan Insurance in the UK, with Gil Reilly, veterinary surgeon at Pool House Equine Clinic.

A veterinarian goes to a convention and is told that a specific shoe is the latest advancement in mechanical support for laminitis. What s/he doesn't know, after prescribing it in good faith for the next case of laminitis in the practice, is that the shoe has to be fabricated in a certain way, or is not suited to a horse with a specific type or shape of foot or pastern, or works exactly the same way as a shoe made of another material or made by a different company, by a different name. But a good farrier knows multiple ways to achieve what the vet wants, if s/he understands the goal.

Likewise, a farrier can't understand why a veterinarian does or does not prescribe painkillers for a horse that needs to be shod for laminitis if s/he doesn't understand that there is an the overall pain management plan for that horse based on its medical history.

A horse owner wonders why s/he reads one thing on the Internet and sees something else entirely transpiring when a vet or farrier works on a horse out in the stable. S/he wonders why no one is helping with a management plan for the horse--shouldn't there be more to curing a horse of laminitis than just drugs and shoes?

To advance the knowledge of successful management of laminitis, an ideal solution would be to host three conferences under one roof at the same time. And make the multi-day event a bit like the old musical chairs game we played as children: put yourself in someone else's chair for an hour here or there, and spend quality time sharing information and insights with each other in informal gatherings throughout.

In a perfect world, at the perfect conference, the owner, farrier and veterinarian for a laminitic horse would all be present at a conference like that. While that isn't likely to happen in many cases, the door is open, the invitation is issued and the Sixth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot is set to begin in just two weeks, on October 29, 2011 at the West Palm Beach Marriott Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida. And you---whether you are a veterinarian, a farrier/trimmer, a horse owner or have any other role in helping horses with laminitis and foot diseases--are invited.

The three-ring conference has come to the horse world.

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What about the insidious form of chronic laminitis caused by hormonal problems in horses? Australia's Melody de Laat gives a quick three-minute summary of her PhD thesis on the problem in this little video. Melody will also be speaking at the laminitis conference in Florida.

Here are the details:

What: The Sixth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot
Where: West Palm Beach Marriott Hotel, West Palm Beach, Florida
When: October 29-31, 2011
Who: Professionals involved with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of laminitis and foot diseases and horse owners who would like to learn more about the disease.
Why: Because in spite of accelerated education efforts, the spectre of laminitis continues to grow and the challenge of helping many horses overcome the disease is as daunting as ever.

About the conference: The Sixth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot continues a tradition of assembling a stellar roster of the world's leading researchers and practitioners to present their newest findings, techniques and ideas before an equally-impressive audience of veterinarians, farriers, and technicians, whose daily work requires the best possible professional education on hoof-related diseases.

Also, many professional equestrians and horse owners who are or have been impacted by the toll that laminitis and equine foot diseases take on horses may attend as well, enjoying the entire conference or just to take advantage of a special "Laminitis 911" lecture series and panel discussions between horse owners and veterinarians.

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Dr. Don Walsh, founder of Missouri's Animal Health Foundation, will speak at the laminitis conference about his work in preventing and treating laminitis, particularly in horses that have developed a resistance to insulin (IR).

The conference, which is chaired by James Orsini DVM, DACVS, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of The Laminitis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine at New Bolton Center, is held every two years and is highly respected for its all-encompassing and empathetic view of the impact that laminitis has on both horses and the people who try to fight the disease. The conference is made possible by a generous core sponsorship grant from John and Marianne Castle, in memory of their beloved horse Spot, who suffered from laminitis.

For 2011, the faculty includes: Michelle Henry Barton, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; James Kennedy Belknap, DVM, PhD, DACVS; Samuel J. Black, PhD; Robert Boswell, DVM; Raul Bras, DVM, CJF; Teresa Burns, DVM, DACVIM; Simon Collins, BSc, PhD; Melody de Laat, BVSc (Hons); Julie B. Engiles, VMD, DACVP; Nicholas Frank, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Hannah Galantino-Homer, VMD, PhD; Ray Geor, MVSc, PhD, DACVIM; Aaron Gygax, CJF; Brian Hampson, PhD; David M. Hood, DVM, PhD; Fran Jurga, Editor; Veronique Lacombe, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Lisa S. Lancaster, MSc, PhD, DVM; Britta S. Leise, DVM, PhD, DACVS; Rustin M. Moore, DVM, PhD, DACVS; Scott Morrison, DVM; James A. Orsini, DVM, DACVS; John Peroni, DVM, MS, DACVS; Christopher C. Pollitt, BVSc, PhD; Patrick Reilly, Farrier; Amy Rucker, DVM; Andrew van Eps, BVSc, PhD, MACVSc, DACVIM; Donald Walsh, DVM; and Jennifer Wrigley, CVT. Horse owner panel: Tamara Gerber, Carol Zebrowski, Lynne Kimball-Davis, and Margaret Duprey.

The program is chaired by Rustin Moore, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Bud and Marilyn Jenne Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Outreach Programs at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The "scientific" program is chaired by John Peroni, DVM, MS, Dip ACVS, Associate Professor of Large Animal Surgery at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. The "practical" (or "clinical") program is chaired by Fran Jurga of Hoofcare Publishing (and The Jurga Report). The conference is unique in that the organizing committee includes almost as many horse owners as veterinarians. Organizer Margaret Duprey is playing a lead role at the 2011 conference by moderating a horse owner's panel, which will bring in additional owners with experience in helping horses with laminitis.

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Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Center in Lexington, Kentucky is one example of a team approach to treating foot problems. This is a short video on the causes and treatment of quarter cracks in horses, which would be treated by a team of vets, technicians and farriers at the clinic. The Podiatry Center's Scott Morrison DVM is on the organizing committee of the Conference and will be speaking along with his associate, Raul Bras DVM, CJF.

In 2011, the conference will also feature an open poster session; titled "Future Forward", this session is open to all conference attendees and trade show participants who would like to participate.

Examples of some of the topics that might be explored in a poster presentation include case studies, cumulative case reviews, new product trials, stable management protocols for equine rehabilitation, and "how to" instructions.

Resources for vet clinics, farriers and allied colleagues who are not accustomed to preparing educational conference-session posters will be available on the web site, including the consultation services of a poster design expert.

Read more about the Future Forward poster session.

TO LEARN MORE AND REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE: The laminitis conference will be held October 29-31 at the Marriott West Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida and will feature 25 guest lecturers, a variety of educational formats, a trade show and social events. Registration may be completed conveniently online or at the conference, however advanced registration would be very helpful for planning purposes. Registration includes all meals and social events on Saturday and Sunday nights. The Marriott is convenient to the Palm Beach International Airport so rental cars should not be necessary.

Visit www.laminitisconference.com for much more information.