Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Abscessed Or What?

Woe is me! I don’t even know where to begin on this hoof abscess saga. On Monday night, I noticed that Siete was very sore on her front feet. The right one seemed warm. I bedded her stall heavily and gave her a little Bute. That was about all I could do but I worried all night that she was having a laminitis attack. Tuesday morning, her right front was cool, but her left front was warm. Her back left hoof looked like there might be a return of the abscess from last week.

Grey Horse Matter’s daughter, who is a saint, lent me a pair of soft hoof boots called Soft-Ride. I put some Animalintex pads in one and velcroed it on to Siete’s back left hoof. I gave her a little more Bute. She seemed much happier, but I could tell that the other back foot was bothering her. I decided to wait to put both boots on since John, the farrier, was coming today.

So, what I certainly didn’t expect this morning was that Silk would be completely lame on her front right foot when I went out to the barn. I just fell apart emotionally. When something is wrong with Silk, something is equally wrong with me. As you know, she is my soul sister. I put the other soft boot on her front foot with some Animalintex and kept my fingers crossed that John would find an abscess when he came. All the while, I was walking around trying to figure out what’s causing all these abscesses.

I ran over to my local tack store to see if they had any Animalintex. The owner didn’t, but she told me that she’s been having trouble with abscesses too, and there were a couple of other women in the store who also were there for the same reason. They all told me that with the wet weather, the dirt has drained off the pastures and there are so many stones and rocks. The store owner recommended an iodine based hoof disinfectant and hardener by Sore No More. She swears by it, so I got some.

John, the farrier, is such a good guy. He was gentle and sympathetic and most of all, so fast. I told him that if there was ever a contest for who could trim a hoof the fastest, he’d win. With all these sore feet, he had to be quick because neither horse could balance herself for long. We started with Siete. He reassured me that he didn’t think she was foundering. He found bruises on the soles of both her back feet. He said that she was putting so much weight on her front feet since she couldn’t rest on the back ones that the front ones were sore now. He strongly urged me to use an iodine and sugar slush in the soft boots on both back feet. That’s what we used in Virginia. It draws the abscess and toughens the hoof. So, that’s what I’ve done. Siete isn’t thrilled by it, but she’s got no choice tonight.

Silk was so sore that she could barely walk out of her stall. John couldn’t find an abscess, but I think it’s just up deep inside and will come out through the coronet band. He mentioned navicular, which sent me into a small panic. We decided that if this lameness comes and goes, I need to check out that horrible possibility. Silk was so good. She leaned her head and shoulder on me, pressing her face firmly up against my heart while he worked on the sore foot. I was almost crying because I felt how painful it was for her. Amazingly, she let him trim the other three feet, and he did it so deftly that I was really impressed. She could hardly walk back to her stall. I gave her some Bute and put the clunky rubber medicine boot with Animalintex in it on her front right foot. When I came out to feed the horses their dinner, Silk was in Siete’s stall, seeking comfort from her daughter. As she walked to her own, she was definitely putting more weight on the sore foot so I think the Animalintex is doing its magic.

So, we’ll see how they are both doing in the morning. I’m considering buying these Soft Ride boots for all eight horsey feet and just putting them on each time I turn them out. Siete was trying to rub hers off tonight. I’m so tired and emotionally whipped that I’m going to crawl into bed. I’ve got so much other real work right now that tomorrow needs to be spent concentrating less on horse hooves and more on writing and preparing for a documentary shoot next week. Enough obsessing about abscesses.

Thursday morning update: Both horses were standing on all legs and hungry this morning. I'm in a much better frame of mind - It rained during the night, but the ground absorbed it so there's no mud or puddles. I'm grateful for small victories right now.


Lori Skoog said... have my deepest sympathies. It is easy to feel helpless when going through this. Do you not ever use ichthamal? The boots sound great. I'd like to know more about them. The Belgian I have here has had chronic abcesses over the past few years. Fortunately they eventually work their way out. He is 31. Get some rest....they will get better.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I do hope that all you are doing for their hooves works out magically overnight. When you wake up, with any luck all problems will be resolved. In case it isn't though hang in there I'm sure in a few days this nightmare will be a thing of the past. The girls know you are trying to help and I'm sure they appreciate all you are doing.

Victoria Cummings said...

Lori - I use Ichthamol when the abscess has drained and I stop packing the hoof. It's so black and messy that it makes it hard for me to see what's happening on the underside of the hoof. It is great stuff though! Since neither horse has an open abscess right now, I'm going to go with the iodine to toughen and disinfect. Thanks for your support!

Arlene - If there's anything that is magical, it's Animalintex - thanks so much for introducing me to this medication! And thanks for all your help and good advice.

The Kittens' Mother said...

Hi Victoria,

sorry I haven't visited in a while!

I am sending you all best wishes and I hope they get better soon and that the problems don't return.

Hugs, from Meg and cats xxx

billie said...

I'm really sorry to hear that you have so much going on with both horses at once!

Have you considered getting radiographs of Siete's hooves to get additional information about why the abscesses happen so frequently?

Dealing with just one a year is hard enough - you have had more than your share of this. Take care - and I'm glad to read that things are looking better this a.m.!

Jen said...

Victoria, I don't know if you and your vet have had blood drawn and I don't know much about it, but this sounds systemic to me. If they get it over and over, despite topical treatment, drainage and generally good wound management, you need to look into antibiotics, possibly. We have a rescue here nearby that sometimes has the strangest cases and it ends up being a systemic infection of some kind. The last thing that makes me think this is that Silk has gotten it, too. Could be an organism in the dirt, true, but if it's just recirculating the problem back to the susceptible areas....

Well, as I say, I can't know, but you might ask about more possibilities. Surely it wouldn't be navicular if all the horses around are fighting the same thing? Good luck!!

AnnL said...

Oh, my goodness, you poor thing! It's so frustrating to see your animals hurting. You feel so helpless. I'm glad to hear they are better this morning and I hope the weather dries up. I've been lucky up here, only 1 of the fillies has had a problem with abcesses. {knock on wood} I think we need to have smudging ceremony for you to get rid of whatever bad energy is hanging around your place causing all these abcesses.

I wouldn't worry about navicular. Doesn't that come on much more gradually?

I hope you gets lots of work done today.


Callie said...

WTH? I can't imagine what is causing all of these hoof problems. They have dry areas to stand on? I know that most of my muddy areas get bleached well,cuz that's where my troughs are and I bleach my troughs to clean them regularly and I swear the run off of bleach kills any fungus or bacteria. Pasture is rich in the fall, they're not overweight? At the risk of upsetting you, is your farrier really good? Not over trimming? You say he's fast, is he taking the time needed? I don't know, just trying to help. I feel bad for you and your girls!

Callie said...

What about feed supplements for hoof care?

Nor’dzin said...

I can really feel how tired you are and send my best wishes and sympathy. I hope life settles down to being easier soon.

Janet Roper said...

We're thinking of you and sending you virtual carrots &
Janet & Shiloh

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm so sorry you're having so many frustrations with your horses' feet. I imagine it would be very frightening and worrisome.

I have no advice, but just want to send positive and healing thoughts your way. :)


Pony Girl said...

I hope things are improving on the mare's abscesses! I know that my sister's vet (different than mine) recommended venice turpentine and Nu-Hoof supplement to strengthen her thin soles, which led her to get a bruise/sole abscess. My Boy's abscess appears to be from a farrier nail....awk!
I am going to check into the products you mentioned. The vet who found My Boy's abscess simply said epsom salts and hot water. It's interesting, how different vets can be!
Anyway, hang in there!