The winter of abscesses

Freedom's AbscessThis winter has been rough on Freedom’s feet. He’s gotten several bruises and blown a couple of abscesses. The culprit? The hard ground.

Most winters we’d have a soft layer of snow on the ground. This winter? We’ve alternated between mud and frozen. The mud softens up his feet and the hard ridges in the ground are punishing.

This week my farrier was out to trim him (and to drain the abscess o his right hind)and we agreed that while in general he does much better barefoot, this winter has been trying. When the ground goes into its rotational freeze I’m going to try putting hoof boots on him to give him some padding and protection. I’m also buying stock in Magic Cushion as I’ve found that packing his feet when he seems sore draws the abscess out right away and packing it once an abscess has drained encourages healing.

So why don’t I put shoes back on him? Because other than this episode of bruising his feet have never looked better. His hoof walls are thicker, his hooves are growing better and his frog is healthier. If I put shoes on him I’ll have to go through the whole cycle of growing out those nail holes in the spring.

How many of you keep your horses barefoot and what do you do when the ground is so hard?

One thought on “The winter of abscesses

  1. My mare, who’s been barefoot all her life, got her first abscess from the nasty, frozen ground this winter. My boy, also barefoot all his life, tweaked a muscle sliding around on an ice patch. I wasn’t happy about the masses of snow we got last winter, but in a way it was much better than the frozen mud we’ve got this year.

    Leave them outside, let them move around, and the abscesses break a lot faster. I wouldn’t let your farrier dig into the sole though. That’s not a good idea for a barefoot horse, or any horse really. It takes a while for that material to grow back.

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