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Abscess!

By Holly Werner

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Dexter cross-country schooling last fall
Several weeks ago, it was time for Dexter to be shod again. I'd been working with him a lot in hopes of not having to resort to tranqs again, and he seemed much calmer about having his feet pulled and prodded in every direction.

When the farrier came out, things seemed to be going well, but when it was time to pull the shoe off, he decided he would try to get away. As a result, he ended up stepping on a shoe nail while the shoe was half-off. I pretty much saw my life flash before my eyes at that point!

We treated the small puncture to the sole with iodine right away; it looked as though the nail only went in about a half a centimeter. The rest of the job went relatively smoothly. Still, I soaked and packed the foot for two weeks and gave him time off from riding.

After two weeks, it looked as though there wasn't going to be an abscess, and he was sound as a pound, so I opted to ride him. He was just dandy! About 24 hours later, however, he went suddenly lame. In the world of veterinary diagnostics, that can mean only one thing—abscess!

As it happened, the farrier was out anyway, so I had him pull the shoe off and use his hoof knife to open the abscess, which was immediately apparent to him. Kids, don't try this at home! More soaking in hot water and Epsom salts followed to draw the "stuff" out of the abscessed pocket.

This all happened the week before we were entered in a show, so sadly I was not able to take him. Zephyr filled in instead, and was very well-behaved with a double-clear jumping round.

A week after the first "pop," the farrier opened the abscess back up, as Dexter still didn't seem 100% comfortable on the foot. More soaking! At this point, I just want to give him all the time off he needs for full recovery. We were entered in another show the week after next, but fortunately I'm getting a catch ride on a really lovely horse instead.

Has your horse ever gotten an abscess? Do you know what caused it? How long did it take for him to recover? I'd love to hear your experiences! (Click "submit a comment" below.)

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Reader Comments

Carly    Harding, NJ

4/18/2010 8:52:04 AM

I'm so sorry! Those abscesses are real buggers! With just a little TLC (I'm sure he's already getting it) he'll be fine in no time. All the horses I've known to get abscesses recover fully. Good luck!

Anna    Wildwood, MO

4/3/2010 1:01:04 PM

It's too bad that Dexter got an abscess. I hope he gets well soon and you and he can compete together.

monica    salum, AZ

3/31/2010 6:04:09 PM

at the barn i ride at, the horse i ride (his name is tommy) went lame once with an abscess. he had a tiny pebble that lodged in his hoof wall and it worked his way through to the surface. but before it popped out, it became infected and the farrier had to take it out. he was lame for about 3 weeks, but he got better fairly fast after that!

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