Six weeks ago, Freedom blew an abscess out the heel bulb on his right front. Last Thursday, it came back with a vengeance.
I had been thrilled that the horses and the barn came through Hurricane Sandy in good shape and when I rode him on Wednesday he felt great.
On Thursday morning, the woman who fed the barn called me and told me that Freedom could barely walk. When I got to the barn there was heat, swelling, a strong digital pulse and a horse that was truly three-legged lame.
He was in such distress that my first thought was tendon injury. I feared that he slipped in the mud left behind by Sandy; the horses were still acting a little spooked after the wind.
However, as the day progressed and he looked worse (despite cold hosing, wrapping and a little bute) and it looked more and more like that abscess had returned. Sure enough, when my vet stopped by later afternoon, that was her assessment, too. This has been a first for me: an abscess that required three vet visits!
After some soaking, the abscess drained again and Freedom is looking a lot more comfortable.
The experience has given me a lot to think about. I have a few theories about why the abscess came back:
- It was a very big abscess and it didn’t drain entirely the first time. My vet says that sometimes, this just happens. If it doesn’t clear up well this time, we’ll have to get films of the foot, but I’m hoping we can just get this to clear.
- The Cavallo boot aggravated the spot on his heel bulb and caused a secondary problem. I’ve come to the conclusion that he won’t be able to wear the Cavallos until this issue is truly behind us.
- After the first abscess, his heel grew unevenly. If there was ever any doubt that increased blood flow encourages hoof growth, this should dispel it! The outside of his heel grew significantly faster than the inside. This left him unbalanced and also put more pressure right at the coronary band. Exacerbating the issue was the fact that we are using a fill in trimmer while my own farrier is on medical leave (she was in a terrible accident this summer). While the new trimmer does a nice job, her 6-week schedule was too long for Freedom during this period of uneven growth.
- Our hay during this period was very rich second cutting. Sometimes horses experience some foot soreness with rich hay.
My plan moving forward is to first, let him heal. And second, find a better solution to protecting his feet while he can’t wear his boots. I have a tentative appointment next week to have him evaluated by a farrier who does a lot of therapeutic shoeing and who has a real expertise in glue on shoes. This might allow us to catch the last few hunts of the season and leave his feet free of nail holes when I pull the shoes for the winter.
Has anyone else had one of these abscesses from hell? How did you resolve it? And how long did it take?