Tel.+49 30 838 53555 Fax.+49 30 838-53480
Semireserves were created by the European Conservation Project for scientific research in preparation for reintroduction in the wilderness. They are defined as enclosures large enough to carry a group of Przewalski horses throughout the year without any additional feeding. The semireserve offers diverse opportunities for significant scientific research. As part of a general screening program, the hoof development in a group of Przewalski horses was investigated in the semireserve Schorfheide near Berlin. Since the foundation of this semireserve in 1992, veterinary treatment was not necessary with the exception of hoof trimming in two animals in 1993. However, major health problems were encountered in the spring of 1999, when three other mares showed signs of laminitis. The initial diagnosis by the authors and the local veterinary surgeon based on observation of behaviour, gait, stance, walk and trot of three mares whose initial weights were higher than those of the healthy mares. The initial diagnosis was confirmed by palpation and the occurrence of very deep horn rings on all hooves and a laminitic horn ring on the right front hoof of one mare. An adequate laminitic therapy was not possible under the conditions of a semireserve. The applied management aimed at two goals: 1. To reduce endotoxin production and acidosis in the horses by reducing the ingestion of carbohydrate rich food. 2. To reduce the mares level of activity and to prevent tearing of the suspensory apparatus of the coffin bone. To achieve these two goals it was decided to remove the three laminitic mares from the rich pasture in the main part of the semireserve and to confine them onto the poorer pasture of the small separately fenced area. All three affected mares had fully recovered from their laminitic condition. Prevention of grass laminitis can be achieved by the following measures: 1. Reduction in grass intake could be achieved by increasing the grazing pressure by an increase in stocking rate of the horses or mixed grazing with another species such as sheep. 2. A longer term solution to the problem may well be to sow specific varieties of grass with lower concentrations of water soluble carbohydrate.