Abscess care and aftercare - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 03-15-2012, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Abscess care and aftercare

Long story short, I'm a college student and couldn't afford to move my horse out with me this semester, so I pasture boarded him at the barn that I was already boarding at at home and liked. Feed, blanketing, and hoof care included. Fast forward 4 months, I get a job and found a new barn and was getting ready to move my horse, but couldn't get ahold of the barn owner. Sent her a few texts, then decided to get him anyway and just leave her a note. Go to pick him up, his feet probably haven't been done in the entire 4 months, he's dead lame on one leg, and his legs are totally covered in mud. Get to the new barn, start cleaning his legs off, and find a big abscess that already worked it's way up to the coronet.

This was all two days ago, and the farrier won't be out until tomorrow. I've been soaking/poulticing/etc the abscess and he's a little less lame, though still VERY ouchy. I don't know how deep it goes or if it can even drain out the bottom since I'm guessing he got it from his feet being long and not being stabbed by a nail or something. Besides trimming his feet, what can I do to make him hurt less? And what is aftercare like? I've never had a horse with an abscess...can you just pick up regular riding and jumping once it's more healed, but still growing out?
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-15-2012, 02:29 PM
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How terrible that you thought you had left your horse in good hands only to find out they were neglecting something so important!

Abscesses are pretty common place during the winter here in the Pacific NW. Unless it's an unusually bad one, daily soaking in epsom salt and then packing the hood with an epsom salt poultice is the standard treatment; I usually continue doing this for a couple days after he looks "better" as I've had abscesses recur if I don't. Also, keeping the horse's feet as dry/clean as possible will help.

Once he's past the dead-lame stage, walking him around will help the abscess work its way out.

Since the farrier will be there tomorrow, he should be able to assess if the abscess can or should be dug out.
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-15-2012, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by neonpony View Post
I don't know how deep it goes or if it can even drain out the bottom since I'm guessing he got it from his feet being long and not being stabbed by a nail or something. Besides trimming his feet, what can I do to make him hurt less? And what is aftercare like? I've never had a horse with an abscess...can you just pick up regular riding and jumping once it's more healed, but still growing out?
Very likely did not get the abscess from being too long. Also they are not all caused by nails or rocks. If it is coming out the top, it's more likely it was a simple grain of sand or the like that is traveling up and out. The muddy conditions kept the sole cool so the infection moved up towards the warmth.

A horse doesn't always need a reason to abscess - just like colic. Everything can be done correctly and it still happens.

Pain can be eased by a soak to draw out any infection. Moving around is better than being locked in a stall.

Your farrier or vet will let you know best course for after care. It will depend on the hoof wall integrity. At some point a shoe may be necessary to prevent too much splitting as the hoof grows out.
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-15-2012, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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I know next to nothing about abscesses but I thought they were commonly caused by long feet? If not, a grain of sand definitely sounds less severe and better for my situation though!

He's currently (and has always been) barefoot since he has amazing feet, so hopefully I won't need a shoe.

I've only soaked it once so far since he's not very cooperative with the whole foot in a tray thing, but I have been packing and wrapping with an epsom poultice every day.

I know it hurts him a ton though because if I pick up the bad foot, he leans on me to the point where he very nearly fell over a few days ago. Nothing for the instant relief of that then? (I'm trying to avoid bute since I'm not really into masking the pain and not knowing what's happening, but I'll get it if it's the last option)
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-15-2012, 02:53 PM
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Bute will help, but if it has started to drain, they usually improve very quickly.

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post #6 of 16 Old 03-15-2012, 07:03 PM
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Typical abscess, a lot of people freak out and think the horse has broken its leg. Poultice it to help draw out the infection, and if you can get a farrier out to try and dig it out, even better. The instant the abscess is burst, the horse will have ahuge amount of relief and will usually be able to get back to work that day or the day after.
The problems with leaving deep seated abscesses to their own devices, is that they can cause some damage to the internal structures of the hoof. I had a warmblood gelding who's previous owner left a very deep seated abscsess untreated, and it put so much pressure inside the hoof that it moved the pedal bone and the foot ended up being slightly clubby.
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-17-2012, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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This was the abscess today (pre trimming). Yuck, but he thinks it feels much better now



And this is what I pulled out of it this morning, providing the insta relief

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post #8 of 16 Old 03-17-2012, 01:17 AM
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Ouch poor guy, that was a nasty one!!!!
Just make sure you keep the area really clean - you can soak a piece of cotton wool in iodine or similar, and stuff it into the hole for a few days to keep the nasties out of it

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post #9 of 16 Old 03-17-2012, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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I'm afraid to pack cotton in there and risk leaving fibers, but I'm cleaning it twice a day with an iodine rinse and the rest of the time it's all wrapped up. Somehow he managed to get a bunch of stall dirt in there in the five minutes it took me to get my vetwrap though.
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-17-2012, 01:36 AM
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Fair enough, though I pack them every time with the advice of my farrier and have never had a problem

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