Saturday, March 10, 2012

oh the joys of owning a horse

7/3.2012 - how to treat a hoof abscess

on tuesday, just in time for our weekly private lesson with sabin's riding instructor, i got an SMS from the stable that matilde was very lame and they weren't going to put her out in the paddock today. so i went right over. it was rather alarming as matilde was standing on her tippy toe with her left front and would hardly put any weight at all on it. we couldn't see anything wrong - no bone jutting out, no bumps, no swelling, no hot spots - it was seemingly nothing!

so i called the vet. happily, he was in the neighborhood and he came right away. he quickly diagnosed a hoof abscess. i'd never heard of such a thing - i think we were just lucky, as it's apparently quite common. he removed her shoe and tested to see where the worst of the pain was and then opened up her hoof to release the pus. dang is that a nasty smell. apparently the abscess is a long time in forming, but once it gets bad, it's extremely painful for the horse, because the hoof is so tough, there's nowhere for all that gunk to go. it was a relief that matilde wasn't just being a drama queen (which she has been known to be).

the hoof

he said it was one of the deepest he'd seen and he didn't dare dig any more out of it, for fear of damaging the wall of her hoof. you can see the round hole he opened at the top of this photo. he packed the open spot with gauze and wrapped her entire hoof in gauze, tape, a plastic bag and more tape, so it was completely protected the first night. then he advised us to invest in a protective boot. this is how they look - the very height of horse fashion. i read a bit about them online and some people use them instead of shoes, tho' i'm not sure i'd do that, as i think if you rode a longer distance in such boots, it would begin to irritate around the coronet band.

tilly's new shoes

on the second day, we removed his wrappings and soaked tilly's hoof in a buck of warm, soapy water for 15 minutes. i was worried she wouldn't go for that, but she actually seems to quite enjoy it - it's kind of a pampering pedicure and she stands patiently for it, like a good girl. bribery of carrots and treats helps.

time for tilly's pedicure

then we fill the hole with some kind of blue iodine tincture and put her boot on. she can't go outside in the mud like she normally does, so we turn her out in the arena for a bit of exercise. on the first day, she was still lame, but already on day two, she appears to be back to herself (tho' we wouldn't yet chance it by riding her). she enjoys being in the arena by herself and it's perfect for a good roll. or two. or three.

there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good roll.

i am always amazed at the capacity of horses to heal quickly. we'll be able to have the shoer in early next week to put her shoe back on and be back to riding her as normal. the boots were pretty expensive, but it seems to work really well as a protector and she isn't bothered by it, so we've felt it was a worthy investment. better than having to get a new horse or having her out of commission for a month! and if it ever happens again, we've got the boots - they come as a pair, so we've got two.