From Endurance to Dressage
It's been a minute since Speedy has had an abscess. I had to look back at past blog posts to see just how long. March of 2021 was the last one he had. This abscess seems weather related as opposed to past abscesses which were related to his PPID, equine Cushing's disease. PPID lowers a horse's ability to fight infection.
It has been raining off and on here for several weeks which is really unusual. In the best of weather years, we receive about six inches of rain. In the month of December alone, we saw 1.69 inches which was was, according our local meteorologist, 154% of normal. And the rain hasn't stop in January. It's only the 6th, and it has rained almost every day this month. All of that means that we are dealing with a lot of mud, more mud than usual.
We were gone over the New Year's weekend which meant neither horse got out. They don't actually need turn out as they live on large sandy lots, but Speedy detests the mud. Most of his sandy lot is pretty dry despite the rain except for right next to his shelter. The ranch owner reported that he paced back and forth under his shelter while I was gone, grumpy that he couldn't move as much as he would have liked.
All of that pacing back and forth, pivoting on the same foot over and over, is a great way for a gravel to find its way into the hoof. The result in a horse who has a reduced ability to fight infection is an abscess. When I went out on Tuesday, the first day back from our weekend trip, the moment Speedy took a step, I knew he was sore. Once I had him haltered and walking on dry ground, it was very obvious that he was grade three lame.
I've dealt with so many abscesses over the past five years that they don't worry me anymore. A horse who presents as three legged lame with no obvious wound probably has an abscess, and in Speedy's case, it's a sure thing. I led him over to the tack room, evaluating his stride on the way. He definitely took a harder step on the front right, which is the foot that usually abscesses, but a heavy stride on the right should mean lameness on the left.
If a horse is in a lot of pain, he'll usually avoid bearing weight on the abscessed hoof. Often times, the horse will point that hoof forward or even rest on the toe of the hoof. Since I am not a vet, and since Speedy doesn't hurt enough to clearly show which hoof it is, I always check both feet. When I put the hoof testers on the right front, I couldn't get a reaction no matter how hard I squeezed. When I picked up the left hoof, I knew right away that it was the abscessed hoof. His foot was hot to the touch. As soon as I put the hoof testers on, he jerked his hoof back immediately.
I pulled out my hoof knife and gently scraped away the mud and debris. Since his feet have been wet for several weeks, it was easy to flick away bits of sole as I searched for the track line of the abscess. It was easy to find. I dug out a small patch of sole on the lateral side, away from the body, but not enough to drain the abscess. Near the white line, I did see some red which indicates blood, but that's not an area that typically bleeds that close to the surface. I knew that I had found the general location of the infection, but I couldn't open it up enough to drain.
For undrained abscesses, my vet recommends poulticing with Numotizene. I first cleaned away all debris from the bottom of the hoof and then packed a handful of Numotizine over the entire sole. I wrapped that with brown gauze, and then wrapped that in vet wrap and Elastikon (only because the ranch owner had some extra on hand). I finished the whole thing off with layers and layers of duct tape. If Speedy is pretty sore, the bandage will last 2 to 3 days, which it did. When he starts to feel better, he'll do a lot more walking which wears away the bandage.
Just opening up the sole a little bit helped relieve some of the pressure. He was already walking with less pain once I pared out some sole and wrapped it. A drained abscess can heal in just a day or two, but with Speedy, it usually takes a week to ten days before he is completely sound. Hopefully he's nearly pain free when I head out this morning. Either way, I am sure he'll need to be wrapped for a few more days.
Abscesses are nothing if not annoying.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: