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?