Caio’s Story – beating laminitis the natural way

The following article was written by one of our ISNHCP student practitioners Jan Brooksbank. Currently living in Dubai, she has frequently hosted my clinics there and we’ve had our share of apprenticships there. Allthough very different from our Western society, a fascinating place to visit. And as you can read below.. no stranger to Laminitis!


Björn Rhebergen


As a barefoot trimmer, I have been following recent articles on Facebook and other media with interest. They have been highlighting the modern ‘epidemic’ of laminitis amongst our horses and advocating the natural way of treatment as explained by Jaime Jackson in his book ‘Laminitis: A Plague of Unconscionable Proportions’.

In my job, I am ‘at the coalface’ in seeing what harm laminitis can do and I despair at the general advice and treatment still being given by the Veterinary Profession when, by following the clear advice outlined in Jaime’s book, we can help all laminitic horses recover and live healthy, sound lives.

For anyone still ‘on the fence’ when it comes to Natural Horse Care and the power of nature to heal itself…

– I would like to introduce Caio (Kai-oh) and his amazing owner Anna, who never gave up on him despite overwhelming pressure to put him to sleep!

Caio - Jan Brooksbank

Caio is a 9yr old Anglo-Arab gelding who lived and competed in Portugal as an Endurance horse (kept outside not stabled) until moving with Anna to Dubai, UAE in August 2016.

Moving country is stressful for horses. In a short period of time Caio changed climate, feed, friends plus had to adjust to limited forage and exchange his field for a small sand paddock and stable. Consequently, he was rushed to hospital at the end of October with Sand Colic. Stress, drugs and a compromised gut are a lethal combination for a horse and on the 5th November whilst still recovering from colic, laminitis was diagnosed whilst still in hospital and conventional treatment began. He stayed in hospital for a month and by  December he was sent home in reverse shoes and pads –

Caio 2

By the end of December he’s no better. The shoes are getting more hi-tech-


jan 3

As per veterinary advice, Caio is stabled alone and fed a high-sugar commercial mash feed.

He receives three different medical injections every day. His soles start to bulge as the hoof wall sheds and his inflamed coronary band is literally ‘rotting’.  He is spending his days lying down and alone.


Jan 4

By January 2017, Caio is losing the battle. Vets and farriers are running out of options.

Jan 5

Anna is having to pick maggots out of a necrotic coronary band as the hoof is actually falling off the horse!

Jan 6

The problems continue through February and by March the pedal bone can be spotted bulging through the latest shoe/pad combination –Jan 7

Caio is unable to walk and these are removed. An attempt is made to apply glue-on shoes at the end of March but Caio is unable to hold his feet up long enough to allow the glue to set and the decision is made to remove all shoes having exhausted all conventional options. That makes 5 months of heartache and expense with nothing to show for it!


Jan 8

When I met Caio on 29th March, he was lying down in a sand pen and had the worst feet I have ever encountered. I have to say that my heart sunk…. but despite his awful situation I saw a horse with a strong will to survive and a very strong bond and trust with his owner Anna. He allowed her to roll him over and hold his hind feet up for me to trim as he lay in the sand.

Jan 9

After previous months of stalemate we embarked on an NHC agenda – and the first thing to consider with a laminitic horse is ‘attitude ‘ – ours not theirs! Horses are very receptive to our energy so it’s really important to be upbeat and positive with a sick horse ( think 1950’s Matron with a heart of gold but a no-nonsense attitude )  Out went the mollassed coarse meal recommended by the vet and in came 24-hour hay ( timothy and Omani) fed in small hole haynets around his sand pen. This encourages movement and ensures that forage is always available. This was supplemented with small quantities of whole oats, salt and chopped vegetables.

Out went all medicines (inc bute), wormers and vaccinations. Remember that laminitis is a symptom of a problem originating in the gut rather than a disease. We need to help the gut to recover by eliminating toxins and providing a reasonably natural diet.

Out went solitary confinement, instead we brought Caio’s best friend Arley into his living space for part of the day to keep his spirits up and encourage him to move. A daily walk was encouraged, slowly at first! Within a few days, Anna noticed improvement in his mood and greater time spent standing up and moving.  When I returned in April I noticed big changes in Caio. He no longer spent long periods lying down and his coronary band was no longer inflamed. He was able to walk out daily on most surfaces without too much of a struggle. The rate of growth of new hoof was incredible. Nature was busy growing a temporary hoof wall beneath the old one, which  had come away from the pedal bone but was still attached at the bottom acting like a rather large, wellington boot holding everything together.

Jan 10

The next couple of months were just a matter of continuing the strict regime of continuous access to forage, movement, company and regular saltwater soaks. “No molasses, no drugs, no processed foods….” and repeat…. humans would pay huge sums of money for similar treatments in an exclusive spa in Geneva!

By May his feet looked like this-

Jan 11

And by June he was able to join the herd of horses on our Paddock Paradise track system at Al Ruwayyah where he continues to improve daily (joining the herd for a gallop last week). These photos are from his latest trim (August 20th 2017). The red mark on the solar picture is a marker pen used for measuring.

Jan 13

As you can see from the last two pictures, we still have a way to go before we have beautiful feet but look what nature has managed in barely 5 months! The hoof wall has shed and regrown. The pedal bone is re-installed back inside the hoof capsule and all the landmarks of the sole are back where they should be. At a length of 3 1/2″ and measuring 45 degrees on the HMR they are within normal ranges for hoof measurements. Caio’s future is bright! No longer facing the bleak choices of death or a permanent retiree, I see no reason why he shouldn’t see a return to normal work next year? Too many other horses are having their lives cut short and their owners are facing huge veterinary/farrier bills when the future could be as simple as Natural Horse Care.

Jan Brooksbank – Dubai

Jan 14