And Universe? This is not a challenge. We're dealing with enough weird ass crap right now. Ain't nobody got time for something else.
Back in February, a hole appeared out of nowhere in Speedy's hind hoof. It was one heck of a magic trick; one day his hoof was whole, the next day there was a hole in in it. Abracadabra.
I poked it, I took a stiff brush to it, and I doused it with Betadine. The next day, it looked nearly the same. I watched it for a few weeks, and then pointed it out to my vet when we were there two weeks later for a routine visit.
I think Dr. Tolley is an amazing vet, but I wish he didn't get quite so excited by all of Speedy's weird ass issues. I am fairly certain that when he sees my name on the schedule, he rubs his hand in glee knowing that I'm bringing in something strange and unusual.
Dr. Tolley whipped out his Dremel and went to work. His initial diagnosis was White Line Disease, but he wanted confirmation from my farrier. Thankfully, Speedy's white line came back clean which meant crisis averted.
Even though there was no sign of White Line Disease, I still treated it with daily swipes of Tea Tree Oil to prevent any issues to his White Line. About two-thirds of the way through March, the hole was looking quite good. It was clean with no sign of infection, and it looked as though it might come off with the next trim.
My farrier was back out for a new trim on Friday, April 3. My fingers were crossed that the hole would be gone after the trim, but Speedy just didn't have quite enough toe to remove. Both horses were a few days past five weeks growth. My horses just can't go longer than six weeks - Speedy's toes grow really fast, and Izzy often starts pulling shoes after the fifth week. For this trim, I had my farrier out a bit early to avoid this week's bad weather.
Given that the hole was at the top of the bottom third of Speedy's hoof wall just two months ago, I am delighted with how quickly the hole is growing out. By his next trim in May, the hole should definitely get trimmed away. It will be a miracle if we have no more hoof issues between now and then.
And Universe? This is not a challenge. We're dealing with enough weird ass crap right now. Ain't nobody got time for something else.
After Dr. Tolley worked on Speedy for so long, I think he was a little worried that Izzy was going to take even longer. Nope. Izzy is actually quite easy to treat. While he's ridiculously worried, he's also more brawn than brain. When over-faced with a a situation that he can't run from, he looks to the humans around him to fix things. In this case, it was Dr. Tolley with a cocktail. After that, Izzy was putty in Dr. Tolley's hands.
Like we did with Speedy, Izzy's first stop was the scale. If you'll remember, we recently spent four days cantering and doing some trail work at a near endurance pace. I noticed that Izzy was looking particularly lean after all that work. The scale supported what my eyes were seeing. A year ago, Izzy weighed a hefty 1,350 pounds. For this visit, he was a much lighter 1,270 pounds. Dr. Tolley wasn't worried. A week or two of lighter rides and a heavier bucket ration will put the weight back on.
Once Izzy's weight was discussed, Dr. Tolley listened to his gut sounds, read the thermometer, and gave him a once over. He couldn't find anything worrisome although he noted a chip in Izzy's hoof. I explained that it was new and was the result of trotting over some rough ground the week before. My farrier came the other, and now, you can barely even see it.
While Dr. Tolley was looking at Izzy's teeth, I had him look at a wound on Izzy's lip that has been healing and breaking back open for several months. At first, I assumed he'd bitten himself because there was a matching wound on the bottom lip. Both slowly closed over, and it didn't seem to bother Izzy. It took longer to heal that I thought it should, but I left it to heal on its own.
Eventually, the bottom wound healed and disappeared completely. The one on his upper lip came back though. I was slightly worried that it was some kind of fungal infection, but I figured it could wait until our late winter vet visit. Dr. Tolley examined it and declared it to be healing fine. It's pretty well closed up now. Dr. Tolley thought it might have been a small splinter.
Dr. Tolley took the opportunity to poke at Izzy's sheath, but I told him I had just cleaned it. He agreed that it looked fine with no beans; I am pretty thorough. After going over Izzy's teeth and giving him his annual vaccinations, that was it. Izzy was declared healthy as a horse. It was a long afternoon, but as usual, I left with two horses well cared for and a few more chapters to add to my "book of knowledge."
Thanks, Dr. Tolley and Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital, for all the work you do!
I actually like taking my horses to the vet. Not for emergencies of course, but for regular maintenance, the bill is almost worth the price of admission. I always learn something new, but that's because Speedy usually shows up with some new thing or another. Izzy, too for that matter. Saturday's visit was no exception.
Both boys loaded up without issue. As a side note, this was the very first time that I hauled my trailer on the freeway with my new truck, Newt. It was also the first time I've hauled both horses with Newt. I have to say that I was pretty happy. All of that aside, Dr. Tolley and his assistant were standing at the ready as I pulled in.
As I unloaded both horses, I started with a run down of what I needed.
Speedy: dental work, check the fit and suitability of his double bridle, vaccinations, fecal exam, check his weight, blood work to check his ACTH levels (the Cushing's Disease thing), examine the abscess, and examine the weird hole in his hind foot.
Izzy: dental, vaccinations, fecal exam, check his weight, and examine the slow-to-heal wound on his lip.
Since Speedy DOES NOT LIKE for Izzy to be out of sight, we always start with Speedy because he can stand in a more relaxed frame of mind while the drugs wear off. For the bit check and abscess exam, we worked on Speedy at the trailer with Izzy tied well within Speedy's sight. In an effort to make this marathon of a post shorter, I am grouping the visit's results by body part rather than in the order they were done. Here goes ...
Speedy's Mouth: I slipped Speedy's halter off and replaced it with the double bridle. First, it did my ego a bit of good to hear Dr. Tolley express obvious appreciation for the bits I had chosen. He thought they were really beautiful and well made. Better than that, he thought the fit was good and saw no issues. If I was happy with how Speedy was going, Dr. Tolley felt the bits were fine.
During Speedy's dental exam, Dr. Tolley gave the bits a second endorsement. He saw nothing in Speedy's mouth to suggest that the bits were harming him in any way. As he worked, Dr. Tolley also shared a "floating" technique that he felt could be related to the evaluation of bit discomfort.
As he worked the sharp edges from one side of Speedy's mouth, he asked if I had noticed that Speedy lifted his head. I had to admit that I had not. Dr. Tolley pointed out that while he works on one side of the mouth, he has to push the tongue to the other side. This often causes the horse some added discomfort because the tongue is being pushed onto the teeth that are still sharp.
To combat this issue, he works for a short while on one side of the mouth, smoothing out some of the rough points. He then switches sides so that he can send the tongue back over to the side that has had some work done. In this way, the horse isn't suffering the discomfort of having his tongue pressed into the sharp points of the teeth that haven't yet been smoothed off.
So how does this relate to bit fit and discomfort? Dr. Tolley explained that when a horse is resistant to the bit, it might well be due to tongue discomfort. I don't think that's a novel idea to this crowd, but it bears remembering. It's probably even more relevant for horses going in the double bridle as there is even less room in the mouth for the tongue to "escape" any sharp edges.
My boys see Dr. Tolley at least twice a year, so I don't worry about dental issues too much. Their teeth always need touching up in the spring, but if they need it in the fall, Dr. Tolley will point it out.
Speedy's Hooves: I pulled off Speedy's Betadine-soaked wrap so that Dr. Tolley could have a look at my handiwork with the hoof knife. He gave the abscess hole a look and seemed pleased with the job I had done. He asked a few follow up questions and told me to keep wrapping it for a total of seven days. Thursday should be the day the wrap can come off.
When I explained that I had received some criticism for draining the abscess myself, he gave me a quizzical look and asked why. After hearing my explanation, he reassured me that I am doing the work with his knowledge and guidance. That's all I needed to hear.
The second hoof thing I needed Dr. Tolley to examine was the weird hole that recently appeared in Speedy's left hind hoof. Right away he took out his Dremel. I hate that thing because it never bodes well for the preferred diagnosis of "nothing to worry about." The Dremel is actually synonymous for "start worrying as fast as you can." Then he dragged out his knee pads. When Dr. Tolley puts on his knee pads, I know we're in for a long assessment.
Weird story ... As Dr. Tolley was strapping on his knee pads, he chatted about having had to wash them recently because they were blood-soaked. From what? I asked incredulously. I was almost sorry I asked. Interestingly, he had to do an emergency C-Section on a ewe who ultimately delivered three lambs. They all survived. My next question was, Three?! How many teats does a ewe have, anyway? To which Dr. Tolley replied, "Two, and yes, that can be problematic." I told you; I always learn something new.
So here is where the whole I always learn something new because Speedy is always diagnosed with something new thing happens. The hole was a possible indicator of white line disease. When I pressed Dr. Tolley, he referred to it as wanting to be white line disease. Well is it or not? Well, without drilling even further, it looked to him like it was the beginning of white line disease. To be sure, he asked that my farrier look at the bottom of Speedy's freshly trimmed hooves the next time he was out. That happened yesterday. I'll share that conversation in Friday's post. But in the meantime ...
Dr. Tolley gave me a thorough explanation of what White Line Disease is. Here's an abbreviated description thanks to a quick Google search: "White Line Disease is a fungal infection of the white line (or lamina) on the bottom of the horse's hoof. ... This separation is then invaded by bacteria and fungi, leading to infection that progresses up towards the coronary band which produces a white or gray powdery material."
Dr. Tolley likes to treat White Line Disease by first providing oxygen to the anaerobic infection. That's why he drilled the hole. The second thing he likes to do is apply a daily swipe of Tea Tree Oil which is from the Melaleuca Tree. Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal properties and is also useful because oil is better at penetrating the hoof than are water soluble products. I now have two bottles of Tea Tree Oil in my ever expanding medical kit. Dr. Tolley also pointed out that the Tea Tree Oil will be an excellent topical to use on Speedy's abscess hole once it has epithelialized.
Once both feet had been examined, I asked the obvious question: is White Line Disease related to Speedy's Cushing's Disease? The answer is that it's not caused by Cushing's, but there is a correlation. After some discussion, we decided to put Speedy back on Platinum Performance's Hoof Support. It seemed to work quite well when Speedy was growing out new hoof when he damaged his coronary band a few years ago.
Blood Work: Which brings us to Speedy's Cushing's Disease. When we tested him last year for the first time, his ACTH levels were at 56, just barely outside of normal. A level of 50 is considered the outside of the normal range. Dr. Tolley drew blood and sent it to the lab yesterday. We should hear back in another day or two. In the meantime. Speedy will continue with the Prascend as usual.
Everything Else: I know it's hard to believe, but there's more! As always, Speedy's fecal count came back negative; he's worm free. Even so, he'll get a dewormer once he's feeling better. The vaccinations always make him feel puny. And his weight? I was very pleased to see him clock in at a solid 1,020. That's the most he's ever weighed at the end of winter. For a horse who is hard to keep round during the winter, this was great news.
Overall, Speedy is in good health. He obviously has a few issues, the Cushing's Disease being the main culprit. But for a dude quickly approaching 16, everything else is in fine shape. Dr. Tolley's litmus test for the hoof supplement is this: if there are no more abscesses, it's working. If he has two more abscesses in a year (after waiting a few months for the supplement to do its thing), it's not working. I guess I'd rather pay for something and not know if it's working than pay for something and know it's not working.
Izzy's vet visit tomorrow ...
Last week, I wrote several times about taking care of Speedy's abscess myself. (You can read those posts here and here.) I didn't call my vet. I didn't call my farrier, I did the work on my own. A reader took me to task for performing a procedure that she felt fell squarely under the purview of a licensed veterinarian.
It's hard to disagree with her. I would ALWAYS rather have a licensed veterinarian perform all of my horses' treatment needs. If he wouldn't mind, I'd love him to show up every day to ensure that Speedy gets his daily dose of Prascend. I'd also like him to look at that weird wound on Izzy's lip. And if it wouldn't be too much trouble, I'd like him to dab some goop on that weird cut Speedy has over his eye. Since I am not independently wealthy nor married to a veterinarian (oh my gosh how convenient would THAT be?), I have to do most of the health care tasks myself. I am sure you do the same.
I guess the problem is that we don't all possess the same knowledge nor do we all have the same level of experience. The procedures that I find easy to do, you might feel are red alerts - something for which a vet should do. I don't even flinch at the thought of doing IM injections; I gave them to myself for several years. In fact, I still do a small, monthly injection for my migraines. Not too long ago, I did a course of B12 shots. Injections are no big deal. Administering something in the vein is where I draw the line. I've never been trained to do that, and I know that it's above my current skill level.
I know my limits. I know what I've been "trained" to do. And if I ever have a single shred of doubt, I pick up the phone and call my vet. Dr. Tolley and I have a relationship that spans decades. From the very beginning, even back to when I was about 8 years old, I've been a hands on owner. Teach me, show me, train me, let me learn ... There isn't a single part of my horses' anatomy that I don't want to understand. There are no procedures that I don't or can't watch. I even assisted when we euthanized my heart mare, Montoya. It broke my heart, but my horses trust me. I couldn't let her face that alone.
Since Speedy's first abscess in January of 2019, Dr. Tolley has "trained" me to use hoof testers and a hoof knife. He's explained what to look for and how to cut. He knows I am never going to cut too deeply since I am always yelling at him for making the hole too big. I am conservative always. I poultice longer than needed. I take my time when digging into the sole, always spreading it out over the course of days. I want the poultice to do the work for me. I bandage with Betadine longer than he suggests because I am mindful of introducing new bacteria.
A friend posted a link to Stone Gate Farm's Facebook page. On it, was a very interesting excerpt from the book, The Essential Hoof Book. After reading it, I felt very justified in my treatment. While my vet didn't do the work himself, it was still performed under my his authorization. I followed his protocols exactly. Speedy saw Dr. Tolley on Saturday. My vet looked over my "work" and said everything looked great and that I should keep doing what I was doing.
The reader who criticized my treatment strategy stated that opening up the abscess was an inappropriate course of treatment. My licensed veterinarian, who has been in practice for more than 30 years, would disagree. Poulticing nearly always helps, but it isn't a guarantee that the abscess will drain. By not creating a drainage hole, the horse will likely suffer an increased amount of pain and possibly even greater damage to the hoof.
I think the reader's main objection was that I cut the sole myself. She also seemed concerned that opening the sole created a pathway for new bacteria to enter. Even had I taken Speedy to see Dr. Tolley, he would still have a hole in his foot. Dr. Tolley would have done exactly what I did, but the hole would have been deeper. I was able to make a smaller hole because I poulticed it for a number of days which softened things up.
In either case, there would have been a hole that needed to be packed with Betadine to kill any remaining infection while protecting the exposed, sensitive tissue from further contamination. According to Dr. Tolley, once the abscess is opened and drained, the wound should be packed with Betadine for seven days to allow epithelialization to occur.
So what does all of this mean? Do the treatments that you feel safe and confident doing, but if you feel that something is above your pay grade, call a professional. I use a chiropractor, saddle fitter, farrier, and of course my vet. When I am in doubt, I call one of them.
We didn't go to this weekend's show at El Sueno because Speedy developed an abscess overnight. I am sure they don't actually develop overnight, but it has sure seemed that way. At best count, Speedy has now had 6 abscesses in 12 months. Before last February, he had never had a single one.
I suppose I should be grateful. It's far better to know what causes a lameness rather than not knowing for sure. After his abscess in August, I invested in hoof testers and a hoof knife. I've put them to good use. I've grown quite good at locating an abscess and digging it out. And not just Speedy's. All of the ranch's horses are now under my watchful eye. I treated the Thoroughbred mare's abscess last month.
The scariest thing about abscesses is how they present themselves. If your horse shows up looking like his leg must be broken, take a deep breath. If there are no lacerations or marks, your incredibly lame horse probably has a hoof abscess. The painful foot might also show some heat and swelling.
Before freaking out, I always pull out my hoof testers; this is the pair I bought. As a side note, these are really easy for a woman to handle while still being very accurate. I always start on one side of the hoof near the heal, and start squeezing my way around the toe back to the other heal. You almost can't squeeze too hard. I squeeze until I see the sole flex. The best way to learn how to use hoof testers is to try them out on a sound horse so that you know how hard you need to squeeze before you get a reaction.
Speedy tested positive on the outside bar. Once I know where it hurts, I start scraping with my hoof knife. The one I bought is sharp enough that I can dig down through the sole as far as I feel safe digging. It's also double sided so I can scrape to the left or right.
The first thing I try to find is the abscess track, marked by the red arrow in the photo above. The track is the path that the grain took as it entered and migrated up into the hoof. Once I find that, I just keep digging deeper and deeper until I either see pus, which is rare, or more commonly, Speedy starts to get really "ouchy." That means I am nearly there. The red circle marks the hole I dug.
The reason I don't like to dig too deeply is that the larger the hole, the longer it takes to fill in. Even though I wanted the satisfaction of "draining" the abscess, I stopped digging when I saw that I was approaching blood. You can tell that the white of the sole is starting to turn pink. Speedy was also in a lot of pain. Simply opening up the sole, even if you don't go all the way, makes it easier for the abscess to drain. I knew that by applying a poultice, the sole would soften up enough to allow whatever particle had made it's way up into the hoof to drain out.
The poultice I prefer is Numotizine. The Numotizine seems to soften the sole, drawing out the infection. Sometimes I can get away with just poulticing without even using a hoof knife. And the good thing is that you can't hurt the hoof by poulticing it for a few days.
I like to scoop out the Numotizine with a telfa pad. Numotizine stinks, and it's hard to get off your hands. By applying it with a telfa pad, it also provides an additional barrier for when the duct tape and vet wrap inevitably wear off, like in the photo below. Underneath the torn duct tape, the brown gauze and telfa pad were still firmly adhered to the hole in Speedy's sole.
While it's not necessary, I like to wrap with brown gauze before wrapping with the adhesive bandage. The brown gauze holds the telfa pad in place, and really, with horses that live in turn out like Speedy, your bandage needs all the layers it can get. If your horse is in a lot of pain, you can also use the brown gauze to wrap cotton sheeting over the Numotizine to help relieve the pressure of standing on an abscess.
Once the brown gauze is in place, I continue with the adhesive bandage. Any brand will do. At any given time, I have Co-flex, Vet Wrap, or a brand I've never heard of filling my bucket. I generally only use half to three-fourths of a roll.
The last step is probably the most important. If your duct tape isn't secure, the whole thing will fall off and have served no useful purpose. I like to apply the duct tape like a bandage. I wrap it around and around the hoof first. After I've covered most of the hoof, I switch to strips. I layer them across the bottom of the hoof going eat to west, and then I repeat that step laying them north and south. The bottom of the wrap is the part that wears through the quickest which is why I like layering the duct tape in a criss cross pattern.
I like to leave the poultice on for three days. The first wrap made it from Friday morning through Sunday morning, only 48 hours. On Saturday, Speedy was still quite lame, but on Sunday morning he was sound at the walk and 95% sound at the trot on the grass. Even so, I repeated the poultice. I've learned that while the horse may look sound, things aren't quite healed up. And besides, poulticing a few extra days won't do any harm.
Once I feel that the acute phase of the abscess has passed, I rewrap the hoof in the same way except that I substitute a telfa pad soaked in Betadine for the Numotizine. The Betadine helps kill the infection while the hole slowly closes up.
Last night, Speedy was once again lame, but I am pretty sure it was because his foot was just soft and tender from the Numotizine. With the new wrap in place, he walked off sounder than when I had jogged him out completely barefoot. Besides killing the infection, the Betadine also hardens the foot back up.
Both horses are going to the vet on Saturday for their annul work up. Dr. Tolley will be able to assess the state of the abscess then. My fingers are crossed that Speedy is sound by then.
Today is just another day ...
On Thursday afternoon, I clipped a lot of Speedy's fetlock hair in preparation for this weekend's upcoming show. I spent a lot of time looking at his feet while I hacked away at all those feathers. Afterwards, I gave him a pretty good work out. The next afternoon, while doing my daily "check," I saw this.
I groaned out loud, and my stomach rolled unpleasantly. I needed a second pair of eyes, so I immediately texted the ranch owner. She came out and looked at it with me. It was definitely not there the afternoon before, and in fact, it looked old. We both stood there poking it and tossing out ideas. Maybe he ... He could have ... What if he ... Neither of us had ever seen anything like it.
I jogged him out. He was sound. I carved at it with a hoof pick. It collapsed in a bit more. All the while, Speedy stood there half asleep, occasionally checking for treats as I rested his hoof on my thigh. Nothing I did elicited any kind of pin response, and Speedy's not particularly stoic.
Our best diagnosis was that it might have been an old abscess that never surfaced. That didn't ring true though as he hadn't been unsound. And with Speedy, abscesses have hurt enough to make him really lame. Our other thought was that he whacked it some time ago, forming a bruise. It could also be something completely different. Whatever it was, we surmised that during our ride the day before, his hoof must have flexed enough to weaken the damaged part of the hoof which then flaked away.
My most immediate concern was that the hole might be deep enough to have gone through the hoof wall into the sensitive lamina. As we studied Speedy's hoof, we did some very rudimentary measurements and determined that the hole was probably still within the horn of the hoof. Just to be on the safe side, I flushed the hole with Betadine solution which would help reduce the risk of infection. It was just after 5:00 which meant my vet's office was closed for the day. Since Speedy wasn't in any pain, I decided to wait until the next morning before calling the vet.
The next morning, the hole looked less ragged. I decided to ride before calling the vet. I wanted to see if I felt anything that was Not Quite Right (NQR). We had a great ride, and the next day, Speedy gave me the best third Level work he's ever done.
Needless to say, I haven't called the vet yet. It seems that whatever it was, it resolved itself long ago, and today I am just looking at the remnants. My farrier is due in early March. I'll let him tell me what he thinks it was.
While I was never a boy scout, or a girl scout for that matter, I do adhere to the Be Prepared! motto. Or as they say, prepare for the worst, but expect the best. Because really, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With horses, you simply can't be prepared enough.
When I took my new bottle of saline solution out to the barn over the weekend, I realized that I needed to do some reorganizing to get everything to fit. After taking care of the ranch owner's horse's abscess a few weeks ago, things were in a bit of a disarray. I pulled out of each of the drawers and took stock.
The bottom drawer of my kit holds bandaging material. The sheet cotton is stored elsewhere as it takes up too much room. In this drawer, I have vet wrap - for some reason I prefer blue. I buy this stuff in bulk because when you need it, you'll need at least a dozen rolls. I also have brown gauze which is super handy for any kind of wrap. I also keep cotton rolls on hand because sometimes sheet cotton is too tall.
Telfa pads are great for loading goop onto a wound, and they won't stick to the wound unless you inadvertently stick it fuzzy side down in the dark. Ask me how I know. I also keep a supply of hydrophilic foam pads which are excellent for treating proud flesh. Gauze pads, the 4 inch kind, are just good for everything. Duct tape. It requires no explanation. And yes, all of that fits inside this drawer although I don't know how.
The top drawer of my medical kit is reserved for my delicate items, the most sensitive of which are stored in a second plastic container with a snap-on lid. Around the edges are stored things like the saline solution - the lids screws on so it doesn't leak. I also keep a small plastic box with a snap on lid that is great for syringing out of. Of course, no kit is complete without scissors, a hoof pick, a hoof knife, AluShield wound spray, and a Sharpie marker. You wouldn't believe how helpful a Sharpie marker can be.
The innermost tub contains everything that I wouldn't want to get dirty. I keep syringes and prescription strength medications in here. There's also a stethoscope and a thermometer - please learn how to use them before you need to. I also keep ointments, Ace, plastic baggies, and plastic sleeves - the kind the vets use for rectal exams, in this tub. Frankly, I am not entirely sure what all is in there as most of it is small.
While I have my vet's number memorized, I am not guaranteed to be the one to find one of my boys in distress. Just to help that person, whomever they might be, I also keep my vet's card in the front of the box where you can see it through the plastic.
It's to the point now that I have so much that when when of the horses does need to see the vet it's for stuff that I simply can't do: sutures, tooth extractions, surgery, cryotherapy ... give me a few more years though. With just a bit more practice, I could probably yank a tooth and stitch something back up.
Don't tell Dr. Tolley though; he might start making me do all the work!
I don't know a single horse girl who doesn't receive regular deliveries of equine related products. And if she's smart, she has Amazon Prime. We get something delivered at least once a week.
When I saw a box sitting patiently alongside the house - Yellow Dog chews so there's a sign directing the delivery person to leave things on the LEFT SIDE OF THE HOUSE, I rubbed my hands in delight.
I eagerly pulled out my package-opening scissors and cut the tape.
I order so frequently that I often can't remember which box is due which day. The day before this box, there was a huge box, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember what I had ordered that would come in such a huge box. It was two new skillets.
Saline solution. Yes, I know it's not worth getting excited about, but my supply was running low. Given how often my horses try to poke an eye out, I thought I had better stock up before it was an emergency.
My Public Service Announcement for the week: have saline solution on hand!
Speedy is "sound," but he's still recovering from last week's abscess.
Last week, I poulticed his foot until I found the abscess. When he seemed sound a few days later, I wrapped it with a Betadine compress for two days and then left him to finish healing on his own. A day later he was lame again.
I got out the hoof testers yet again to confirm that he was still sore where the first drainage hole was, and then I got to work with the hoof knife opening the hole up even wider and deeper. I repacked it with a Numotizine poultice and left it to percolate for three days.
I pulled the poultice, scraped it clean and put the hoof testers on again. He was a tiny bit sensitive at the hole, but you know, HOLE in his foot. I asked for a quick trot out on the pavement. He was a bit off, but then he jogged out sound on the grass. Hoping that the abscess had cleared, I packed it with gauze soaked in Betadine.
I next wrapped that in brown gauze. I find that the brown gauze stabilizes the Betadine soaked gauze pads and gives the whole thing a tiny bit more of a cushion.
Next, I use about three-quarters of a roll of a cohesive bandage like Vet Wrap or Co-flex, whatever I last bought on sale. This just keeps everything in place.
The last step is to secure the whole thing with duct tape. The more the better. I can't stress this enough. Use more than you think you need, and then throw on a few more strips. Personally, I use the wrap it around and around method followed by layers of strips. I like to do a layer running east and west followed by a layer running north and south. Sometimes, I then do another wrap around layer, or 4.
We're due for some very heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday. Even if Speedy looks sound this morning, I am rewrapping it through the weekend until the mud dries back up. Our December show is already off the table. I'm going to do my best to see that we make it to a spring show.
Keep your fingers crossed for us. We're in need of a little luck.
Well, I was right. Speedy's recent lameness was due to a baby abscess. After leaving the poultice on for two days, I pulled off the wrap and used my hoof testers to see if I could find a sore spot. Instead, when I squeezed the testers, I made a little hole. I practically squealed in delight. I knew those things were going to come in handy!
I quickly grabbed my hoof knife and pared away the softened sole to reveal a nice little hole. I dug around some more and found a teensy tiny black line which was the abscess track.
After trotting Speedy out to check for soundness, I gave my vet a call. He suggested I make the hole as wide and deep as I felt safe doing. The bigger and deeper the hole, the higher the probability would be that I opened it up far enough to let it drain all the way. I dug it out a bit more, and then on my vet's recommendation, I packed it with gauze soaked in Betadine and rewrapped it. A poultice serves to draw out the infection, while the Betadine serves to kill the infection.
Thankfully, my wrap held on through most of Wednesday's downpour. And even though the wrap came off a few hours before I got there, the gauze was still stuffed into the creases of the frog which protected the hole for just a few hours longer. Since Speedy was shivering in the rain, I took him for a walk to warm him up - I also had to blanket him for the first time in years. Walking him gave me a chance to do a soundness check though. He trotted out 100% sound on both the grass and the hard-packed driveway.
I would have liked to rewrap the hoof for another day, but his "dry" pasture was a lake. There was no way a bandage would stay on in that mess. Given that he was sound and the hole had filled in considerably, I left it to finish healing on its own.
And then on Thursday ... To be continued.