Cause(s) of hoof abcesses?

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Cause(s) of hoof abcesses?

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    10-24-2009, 02:20 PM
Cause(s) of hoof abcesses?

Bit of background: my horse (Ellie) who I just got a couple of months ago, lives with a friend some distance away. She has three others, two retired, one riding. About 10 days ago her riding horse went lame with an abcess in his hoof. This morning she called to say that Ellie seems to have an abcess also.

What I'm wondering, obviously, is whether this is just coincidence, or if there might be some underlying cause? Any thoughts, or suggestions on where to look for more info?
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    10-24-2009, 03:04 PM
Horses are kept at the same location, being fed the same feed, and probably being trimmed at the same intervals by the same person. Sure they could both have abscesses from the same cause. I would want to know more about the trimming and what is being fed.
    10-24-2009, 08:38 PM
It is very possible that there is an underlying problem. Poor hoof maintenance is a huge factor, if the hooves are not picked properly before and after every ride it is a lot easier for an abscess to occur. If both the horses are on poor footing they are both at risk. An example of poor footing would be mucky ground, or ground with sharp pieces such as gravel or broken glass. An abscess occurs when a particle of dirt gets jammed into the hoof and the area becomes infected. The usual way to get rid of them is to soak the hoof in Epsom salt water and wait for the abscess to "blow out"- similar to a blister. Also make sure that these horses are not being ridden when they have the abscess, it is painful for them to move on an abscessed hoof. The pus that comes out of an abscess is quite contagious, if another horse comes in contact with the infected pus that horse has a higher risk of obtaining an abscess. Poor shoeing/trimming can increase the risk of an abscess. Surely, two horses kept in similar conditions obtaining abscesses may or may not be a coincidence. That is why it is good to make sure the hooves of every horse have proper upkeep, because if there is an underlying problem in upkeep it can be identified and annihilated to lower the risk of future abscesses.

The owner of this horse can do the following to lower the risk of future abscesses and to treat the current horses:
-when an abscess is obtained, the horse should not be ridden or lunged. The hoof should be soaked in warm Epsom salt water until the abscess is gone.
-the bedding of the stalls must be fresh, dry, and cleaned as often as possible. Urine and manure can easily cause abscesses. The amount of bedding is debatable, deeper bedding poses a greater risk for the damp, germ-filled environment abscesses arise from, but deeper bedding can be more comfortable for a horse that is already lame.
-The horses should be shod/trimmed correctly. If a shoe is pulled accidentally, the holes where the nails were are a breeding ground for infection.
-Avoid contact with mud and avoid riding on anything sharp. A nail or glass shard piercing the hoof is a huge problem.
-Make sure the hooves are hard and healthy. Horses with softer hooves are more likely to obtain an abscess.
-When grooming the horse, feel the hooves carefully for any hot spots, which often mean there is an abscess that is hiding and will soon be a problem, if it already isn't.
    10-24-2009, 09:13 PM
Thanks for the response, everyone. Apparently I got a bit ahead of myself. The friend called later, and the vet said Ellie's problem is not an abcess, but just tender feet.

We only got Ellie a couple of months ago. Before that, she was living in a sandy field (northern Nevada, so not grass pasture), and hadn't been ridden or shod for several years, so her hooves were somewhat overgrown. The farrier trimmed them back when we first got her, and they were tender for several weeks. We'd started walking her and doing short rides, and she seemed to be doing ok. However, about 10 days ago we had an unusually large amount of rain followed by a warm spell, which apparently softens the hooves and makes them tender again. So I guess it's back to the beginning, take things slowly, and let her feet toughen up again.

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