A BRENTWOOD-based horse sanctuary is warning horse owners to be aware that the rise of sugars in pastureland at this time of year increases the risk of their animals contracting Laminitis.

Laminitis is a common, painful and ultimately devastating condition affecting the feet and hooves of horses and ponies.

The rise in sugars in pastureland causes a rise in glucose, potentially exacerbating any insulin-related issues in equines and thereby increasing the risk of Laminitis, Remus Horse Sanctuary is warning.

The warning comes as the results of the National Equine Health Survey are released; finding that 7.15 percent of horses had suffered a bout of Laminitis in the previous year, with 43 percent of them recorded as first episodes. This contrasts with the 2013 survey data, which showed that 4.4 percent had suffered Laminitis, with 25 percent listed as first occurrences.

Sue Burton, founder of Remus Horse Sanctuary in 1983, one of the leading equine authorities on the treatment and cure of Laminitis, said: "It's worrying that Laminitis is shown as such an issue in the National Equine Health Survey.

"It’s very important that horse owners test to establish whether there is an endocrine disease causing the Laminitis, ie, PPID or EMS. By establishing this, the incidents of Laminitis can be reduced, giving the animal a better quality of life.

"The support we practice includes holistic treatments, stress management, and we are a no sugar yard, so that means no treats such as carrots or apples and no molasses.

"The horses with EMS, specifically, are taken off grass so that we can control what they eat, until the problem is controlled, and then they can be returned to pasture. We will be discussing all of these issues at our elderly horse seminar in November."