Friday, July 18, 2008

Hoof Abscess Season

Here we go again. On Wednesday, my husband and I were “hand grazing” the horses on the thickest, most delicious grass which grows just on the other side of the fence from the pasture. It’s the “grass is always greener” grass. One minute, Siete was walking normally. The next, she was lame on her left front leg.

I cleaned her hoof and examined it but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. So, I hosed the leg with cold water, hoping that she just twisted something. She could stand on it and walk, but was obviously favoring it. When I came out to the barn yesterday morning, she was definitely limping. Fortunately, the farrier was coming to trim their feet. I called the vet, and she predicted it was a hoof abscess. Correct. The farrier found one right in the middle of her foot and drained it. Previously, in Virginia and here, last year, the abscesses were on her back feet near the hoof wall. We’re guessing that she might have caught a little rock in her hoof this time. July is traditionally the season for Siete to have a hoof abscess.

Last summer, the vet and the farrier wondered if it wasn’t part of the Lyme Disease symptoms. I did mention to both of them yesterday that I’ve been wondering if she was having another bout of Lymes. I am very frustrated by the lack of information about this disease. If there’s a vaccine for dogs, why can’t they make one for horses? As with humans, once an animal has had Lyme Disease, all kinds of weird, systemic problems continue to occur off and on.

Anyway, I started the drill for healing a hoof abscess. It’s easier since it’s her front foot. We soaked it in some warm water with Epson salts. I used a short feed bowl instead of a bucket because it’s easier for her to stand in it. Then, I filled a Davis medicine boot with this gooey green stuff called Equi-Phar MG-60. It’s Epson Salts and methyl saliylate. Siete is being very good about wearing the boot. She had another soak last night and one this morning. She seems to be feeling so much better. It may be to my advantage that the temperature soared into the 90’s. Neither horse wants to do anything except stand in front of the fan.

I’m going to pack the hoof with the green goo and wrap it in a diaper taped with duct tape today to see if it’s less uncomfortable than wearing that clunky, heavy boot. Once she seems to be getting better, I’ll switch to Ichthammol Ointment. It fills up the hole and keeps the hoof from getting re-infected. Does it sound like I’ve done this a few times before?

The funny part about all this is that I never got annoyed. I didn’t complain or think, “Oh great! I needed this like a hole in the head!” I was grateful that the problem was only a hoof abscess. I am so pleased that my horse behaved like an angel for the farrier as he dug it out. She even stood quietly while he trimmed the other three feet since the pressure on the left front was relieved.

This kind of malady is just part of caring for a horse. Anyone who has ever considered owning a horse needs to know that these kind of things happen all the time, usually when it’s most inconvenient. Making Siete comfortable and healing her hoof is at the top of my list right now. Washing Silk and treating her itch is still up there too. Whatever happened to riding and relaxing this summer?


M. C. Valada said...

We've dealt with the bruise and abscess problem a number of times as well. Mostly stone bruises. Always Ace's left front hoof.

The Arabian Prince will not stand still in any amount of water to soak. We've occasionally used a dampened diaper with epsom salts in it wrapped around his foot in lieu of the soak. Then we do the black goo and a gaffers taped diaper for a week.

With the last bruise, my vet told me to go back to shoes on the front feet with protective pads. It's twice the cost of trimming bare feet, but we haven't had a problem since. Of course, we also don't have the wetness you have back east, which could create a different problem with the pads.

Jen said...

Great post, Victoria, and just what we "newbies" need to hear. I was lucky that my mare (who I sold this spring) only ever needed preventative care like shots and some dental and farrier work. I knew then and know now that if I ever have another horse, we will have to have saved up significantly more than just the purchase price before we buy. I'll be making sure we have at least double the amount available for just what you are having to deal with in terms of added cost. The care is not a problem for me, either. I don't mind taking care of any sick person or animal, but when finances are an issue, the stress level definitely rises. Thank goodness people like you and other friends are around to help remind us that having a horse is more than ribbons and rainbows! :)
Have a beautiful weekend.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sorry to hear about Siete's hoof abscess. That's certainly no fun, especially in this heat. I don't blame them for standing in front of their fans.
You mentioned a vaccine, well they do have one and as of yesterday all my horses(except the two new ones) got it and will get another booster shot next month. It doesn't claim to be the be all, end all of vaccines for Lyme, but the vet said they are having good results with it. I figured I'd give it a shot. You might want to ask your vets if they administer it, and they can tell you more about it.
As for relaxing and riding, it seems there is always one more thing to do that keeps us from doing what we want to do.

the7msn said...

Good for you for keeping the right attitude through this. Knowledge is power, and you certainly know what to do. I hope the abcess heals quickly.

Misty's Mom said...

It's great to hear stories like that: someone who cares for their horses properly! How lucky you were that the farrier was coming anyway. I hope that Siete gets better, and if I find something pivotal about Lyme disease, I will be sure to think of you and send it along!

Twinville said...

I hope the abscess heals quickly. And I'm sure it will with your patient, experienced care. Thanks for the reminder about being prepared for and willing to take care of any horse health issues that happen.

LJB said...

Gosh, a "season" of abscessing? You are not one to exaggerate and dramatize in your recalling the day's events, so you got my attention! Are you familiar with Pete Ramey's and Gene Ovnicek's and Marjorie Smith's websites on barefoot horses?

Victoria Cummings said...

LJB - I have looked at Pete Ramey's website. I'll check out the others. I have a wonderful farrier and I know he is doing a good job. He believes there's a connection between the abscesses and the Lymes. Last summer, poor Siete had two abscesses, one on each back foot. Once she had a course of antibiotics, she was fine. I've been worrying that she's having a recurrence of Lymes recently, so I'm watching to see where this goes.

Strawberry Lane said...

Great info for people new to horses!

It is for sure, if our horses are not well taken care of and comfortable ... we are not comfortable.

I've spent many nights in the barn and skipped many events to stay with the horses ... just in case.

Hope Siete has a quick recovery!

Gecko said...

Ouch. Poor Siete, abscesses must be so uncomfortable for horses, I can't even begin to imagine it. She's lucky you're so dedicated to your horses and you are taking every possible measure to make sure she's comfy. Good on ya!

LJB said...

Ah yes, the Lyme connection! That makes sense. Along with metabolic issues which also can increase the chance of laminitis and other hoof troubles... I tend not to worry about Lyme but recently have seen deer in our fields -- areas beyond the usual range of our guineas. So now I can justifiably worry about this. Best to your and Siete, and Silk, too, of course.

Ewa said...

Vic, I am amazed how do you know all this and how to treat it..
I just tagged you - have a look ;)

deejbrown said...

In my next life, I would like to be a horse in your barn.