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.
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.
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.
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 ...