Abscesses in both Fronts- Please help!

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Abscesses in both Fronts- Please help!

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    02-04-2013, 10:47 PM
Abscesses in both Fronts- Please help!

About a week ago I took Drifter on a long trail ride (7.5 miles). Some of it was down a pretty rock road and he was uncomfortable so I got off and walked him down it. After we got home when I was picking his feet, he was reluctant to pick up his back hooves. Thought he was probably tired, turned him out and didn't think much of it. He was still reluctant to pick out his back feet the next day so I called my farrier. He was scheduled to come out the next day for a trim and told me he would look at Drifter's feet for me.

He called me after looking at him and said he hadn't flinched for any sign of pain anywhere and that he guessed maybe he was just stiff from the deep mud in the pasture and being worked so long.

Drifter has been very stiff in his back legs for the last week, but seemed to actually be sore on the fronts. I had called my vet out to come look at him today since he was not improving and when we got to him we noticed he had blown two huge abscessed out of both fronts. Both in the same location, close to the toe.

Should I be freaked out? Drifter hardly ever abscesses. Both my vet and farrier have recomended that I keep him up out of the mud and soak both feet with an Epsom salt and betadine solution. I am going to follow their directions obviously but I am still very concerned that this happened. The vet and farrier both think that since Drift is so stoic about pain we could not detect any in his front and that he was probably off loading weight to his back legs which would cause them to be sore.

Are there any serious issues I need to be bringing up with my vet? Do I need to be looking into his feed or anything or could the abscesses have been caused by rocks from the long trail ride? Or something to do with the mud?

Thanks for the help. Two abscesses at once just really freaks me out! Never experienced this.
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    02-04-2013, 11:12 PM
An abcess is very common, don't freak out :) Just follow the directions. They can get an abcess from rocks, a bump.. pretty much anything.
    02-04-2013, 11:27 PM
Thanks Spotted! I know they can be pretty common, but just wasnt sure if both fronts at the same time would be as common. Good to know I'm panicking over nothing probably! I am sure it was form the mud making his feet so soft and rocks. That is what my vet and farrier seemed to believe though
    02-05-2013, 06:39 AM

Firstly, no cause for panic, but I wouldn't call it nothing either. It COULD be close to nothing, but it could also be something major - don't know without further info. Horses can indeed get abscesses as 'one off' type accidents, particularly sharp rocks, etc. But if they get more than one in a blue moon, it's likely that something's not right. Could be as simple as asking too much of them for their feet to cope with, such as a rocky or particularly long, hard ride, or it could be a sign that the feet are generally unhealthy. Could even be a symptom of a major problem such as chronic founder or pedal bone fracture.

That you say your horse has been living in constant deep mud is a common cause of abscesses, especially if there's any separation/seedy toe present. That he lives in mud will also mean the hooves are soft & probably not very strong. It could also be that he has thrushy, weak heels, due to the mud or whatever & so was landing on his toes.... lots of speculation & possibilities but without pics & more info, can't tell more.
    02-05-2013, 05:42 PM
Thanks loosie! We have indeed been batting thrush in both front feet due to the mud in his pasture. I also would not be surprised to find that stretch of gravel road was too much for him and that he picked up a stone bruise or a rock itself which led to the abscesses. I was unaware of that road and will not be riding on it again. Maybe it was all 3 of those factors combined. Poor guy. I feel awful
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    02-05-2013, 05:43 PM
I will look into getting some quality pics of his feet! What other info would help you determine the possible cause?
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    02-05-2013, 05:58 PM
In the past our vet had us keep the hoof clean..gauze packing and then wrap with vetwrap and ducktape after the soaking. Just do what your vet tells you.
No fun.They do get a bit cranky with stall confinement. Hand walking a bit helps when the foot or feet aren't hurting.
You might look into using boots for the front feet for some of those early rides before you put on shoes.
I hope your horse has a speedy recovery.
    02-05-2013, 10:24 PM
Firstly after reading above, have to say I find it amusing the different ways people write/call duct tape!

I would not advise stalling the horse - free movement is best - BUT if he doesn't have anywhere at all dry, then it may be the 'better evil' to stall him for a short time daily, to give his feet a break from the mud. Having boots if you're doing big rides that you're unsure of the surface is a good idea. You can always tie them to the saddle & just put them on for certain parts too. If the horse is thrushy tho, I'd probably be inclined to ride in them everywhere, with foam frog pads, for now at least, to encourage comfortable heel first landings.

More info on diet, management & environment are helpful, as well as pics.
    02-06-2013, 12:42 AM
I took some pics of both areas today but cannot figure how to upload them from my iPhone. Will possibly try the computers on campus tomorrow. Our Internet is down at my apartment.

I do not have him in a stall. He has been moved to a private paddock that is more uphill than the big pasture so it is less muddy and wet. He has access to hay 24/7 because he has a history of ulcers. He is always turned out 24/7 except he was on 24/7 stall rest for a stifle fracture for a period of about 4 months from early October to late December. The grass hay is available in his private lot 24/7 and he is given a few scoops of alfalfa hay before every grain meal. He is fed grain 2x day right now. No more than 3lbs at each feeding. He is impossible to keep weight on without grain.

Environment- he was in a 200 acre pasture or so that has sadly turned into a giant swamp pit. OUr BO closed down the back 40 acres of the normal gelding pasture and opened up the gate leading into the barns older Xc course. Here in MS it has been raining a ton. It has finally dried up but now the ground is just rock hard holes and Ruts from where it had sunk in under the horses feet. There are still a few standing puddles. It is supposed to be raining again later this week. I would say Drift has probably been living in wet and muddy conditions for about a month and a half now. Have been doing my best to clean his feet every day and keep them dry but there was a period of time where I was down with pneumonia. Maybe that was how this all got started.

He is currently suffering from thrush in both fronts which is pretty awful. Thankfully the new living area seems to finally be helping. I am using thrush buster and a wire brush to combat the thrush.

Drifter had always been in shoes his entire 8 years. Found a new farrier who helped me to make the transition to barefoot (decision was made because new farrier said he would not put shoes on drifters feet. They were cracking, brittle, under run heels). We made the transition to bare feet back in late August or early September. Has been doing great until now.

What is weird is that both spots on both fronts are horizontal cracks both an inch long about half an inch from his toe on the front of his hoof wall. My farrier explained it to me as possible coronary injury that lowered born growth and it being soft from the mud allowed it to open up? Does that make sense? He said he felt like grit or mud agitated those spots. He is coming to check on drifter again tomorrow around 1 so I will ask him more questions regarding that.

I will also look into uploading the pics
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    02-06-2013, 03:38 AM
Originally Posted by DriftingShadow    
The grass hay is available in his private lot 24/7 and he is given a few scoops of alfalfa hay before every grain meal. He is fed grain 2x day right now. No more than 3lbs at each feeding. He is impossible to keep weight on without grain.
Sounds familiar - have I commented on this in another thread? Basically in cases I haven't, I'd be feeding the roughage WITH the grain not separately, if you absolutely need to feed grain, and splitting it into more smaller meals. If grain, oats would be my choice & any other type must be well processed(eg cooked, not just 'cracked'). There are generally many healthier alternatives for weight gain to grain tho & it's also possible it's the grain & how it's being fed that is causing him to be ulcer prone & a 'hard keeper'. That sort of diet can also contribute to hoof probs.

Drifter had always been in shoes his entire 8 years. We made the transition to bare feet back in late August or early September. Has been doing great until now.
How did you 'transition' him? How did you deem he was ready to go bare? Unless a horse's feet are extraordinarily strong & healthy, 5-6 months is not very long to expect any real changes & particularly if he's been shod his whole life, since way before maturity, he's likely(& obviously by the farrier's concerns) to have far less than great feet anyway to start with. For those reasons I would still be protecting him a while yet on rough/hard ground unless he was obviously comfortable, making heel first impacts, etc.

What is weird is that both spots on both fronts are horizontal cracks both an inch long about half an inch from his toe on the front of his hoof wall.
Oh there's something pics would have explained. When you said he's recently come down with abscesses at the toe, I imagined they were in the sole. Yes, your farrier is right that the damage would have happened at the coronet - this can be due to bashing the hoof or such but being in both feet, very likely either systemic, such as a laminitic 'event' or due to concussion - faster paces on hard ground, particularly if he's landing toe first due to weak heels.

That the abscesses only became evident recently, as your farrier has also said, are likely due to the mud & infection. If close enough to the ground they may be able to be trimmed out completely, but resecting/opening them up & cleaning out the diseased & necrotic tissue there, before treating the seedy toe will most likely be necessary.

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