Hollow sounding hoof? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-08-2019, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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Hollow sounding hoof?

My horse has had hind hoof abscesses for the past 3 winters. Low heels, bad barefoot trimming (leaving overgrown flattened bar) and wet climate has all caused major problems.

He is now shod and coming around but the farrier finds more and more abscess damage with each trim as the hooves grow out and noticed that the outside of each hind hoof sounds hollow when you tap it vs the inside sounds solid.

Obviously there are cavities in each foot where the abscess were but how serious is this? He are thinking x-rays and heaven forbid resections.

The horse is sound but farrier thinks he is a trooper and may be hiding pain.

I'm prepared to do x-rays of course but vet advised only to do so if an abscess reoccurs.

Anyone have experience with this?
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-08-2019, 07:57 PM
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Hi,

First, kudos to your farrier for being concerned about the 'hollow sound' - I don't know of many farriers personally who would even register that!

Can't give you much specific idea with so little info. If you'd like to post pics, that might help give more specific idea. If so, *see link in my signature line BEFORE you take pics*.

Yeah, hollow sounding tends to mean separation, or at least 'stretching' - that is, there is a wide 'laminar line' from mechanical damage. It can be that the actual laminae are stretched, or there is 'lamellar wedge' material that's filled in the gap between the dermal & epidermal laminae. If it's actually separated - there's an actual hollow gap, this goes hand in hand with 'seedy toe/WLD' and yes, will need 'resecting' to treat properly. Separation is generally evident from the bottom, but not necessarily.

If your horse is shod conventionally in steel rims, it is extremely likely that will be exacerbating problems, inhibiting healing. Peripherally loading hooves is problematic for many reasons. This is the main factor I believe, and avoiding having the horse shod until his feet are healthy is a vital part of 'rehab' in almost all situations. Hoof boots are generally a good alternative when you need extra protection for 'work'. If, for some reason, you feel you must use fixed shoes, Easyshoes or Eponas, which are flexible, provide protection & support under the foot, not just forcing the walls into full loadbearing. There will still be a bit of extra force on walls, especially if they're allowed to overgrow - so it's vital any shoes are 'reset' around 5 weekly max, to minimise that prob, but at least most of the 'side effects' of shoes can be avoided/minimised with that type.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-09-2019, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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Loosie, thank you for your reply. Here is more information, sorry in advance for the rambling!

He is a 17h WB/TB. This horse was been barefoot for 15 of its 16 years of life prior to the more recent shoeing. There could be white line but there is no evidence of it from the outside. I believe the pockets are from chronic abscessing. He is sound all summer when the abscesses subside. Come November and PNW rains abscess returns.

The past 4 years, since not being stalled at night, he has suffered from severe hind foot abscesses every winter and the 2 barefoot trimmers that I've hired in recent years have not been able to address problems with his hind feet, only saying that he has "leaky gut" and that inflammation from the hind gut is seeping into his feet. I don't believe the leaky gut thing and it took me too long to stop drinking the "barefoot is the only way" cool aid.

The horse has a good diet, timothy hay, alfalfa cubes with vit/minerals & salt. No grain, no pasture, no sugar. Regular light flatwork 5 days a week, 30 - 45 minute rides. Barefoot trimming cycle was every 4 weeks for years. Now his shoeing cycle is every 5 weeks and not a day later. We are on the 3rd cycle with this farrier. The abscess tracks seem to be growing out and we find more and more with every trim.

Finally decided to shoe all around as I've tried every other solution including help from vet, booting with Renegades, White lighting treatments, stalling which causes him to stock up and become undone mentally, different paddock footing including gravel, sand, hog fuel etc, etc... He is very prone to thrush and pastern dermatitis so I'm always on top of foot maintenance.

The new farrier dug out a huge abscess which several days after burst almost a half a cup of pus and blood that had been there since probably the winter. I have the most stoic horse on the planet and had no idea all that was in there :(

I guess I'm just at my wits end after struggling for 4 years and am super apprehensive about this coming winter. The horse is a trooper and gives me 100% under saddle all the time. Even babysits my 10 year old for a little walk/trot now and then - a true saint and obviously the love of my life.
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-09-2019, 10:45 PM
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OK, few thoughts from what you've said...

Yeah, just like farriers, there are 'barefoot trimmers' and 'barefoot trimmers' - some who are fanatics, some with little good study or experience, some with... interesting theories. Or otherwise. Just don't 'tar them the same' any more than you should judge all conventional farriers the same because of similar experiences with a couple.

I don't know what PNW rain means, but constant wet footing is not good, and yes, abscesses, particularly sub solar, as the sole is softened, are not uncommon in that situation. Is there any way you can keep him on dry footing at that time of year, at least part time? I hear you that you don't want to lock him up tho... that's not ideal, but maybe if he were locked up just over night on drying footing, if he had a mate & bigger area than just a stable box... Also, soaking feet in a saturated saline solution, or packing with salt & wrapping will help them dry out, by osmosis.

That it's just his hind feet indicate that there are likely mechanical probs going on too. Likewise for the 'leaky gut' hypothesis. It is absolutely a thing that gut probs, including 'leaky gut' from ulcers or such, which allow toxins to 'leak' into the blood, can cause laminitis. So it's possible that is part of the prob. As systemic issues effect all feet equally, it could be his feet are slightly compromised from gut probs, but there's still something else going on to cause the hinds to be so much worse. And again, 'hollow sound' indicates there is stretching/separation, so I'd say mechanical issues are the major prob.

Sounds like diet is good. Depending on what vits/mins he's getting from that will effect what he may need from supplementing, and if it's a generic type supp, it's possible it is not the best for him. Too much iron, too little Mg, Zinc or such. So it is best to do a diet analysis before working out what supps may be appropriate. If he's 'very prone' to thrush & dermatitis, IMO there's likely a nutritional factor there. *Some studies, by a rehab specialist in a wet environment(Tasmania) have shown that feeding MSM helps reduce probs such as seedy toe & thrush, so it's also worth looking into stuff like that. Again though, even if nutrition is a bit of an issue, it's obviously only a part, if it's only his hind feet effected so badly.

If you keep finding 'abscess tracks' each trim(where abouts? Under the sole or in the wall?) it sounds like there is a seedy toe/WLD issue likely - whether that's secondary to the abscesses or not. This really needs to be dealt with assertively, as it can be insidious & cause major damage if left. Where did the farrier dig the abscess from?

Sounds like he isn't all that active, if he lives in a dirt paddock & is only lightly worked, so more exercise will be good for his general health, hooves included. Is the horse shod in conventional rims? If so, unfortunately, especially as there are(educated assumption) mechanical probs, this will exacerbate those issues. This is one reason I wouldn't advise conventional rim shoes. They are very often a great palliative though, allowing the horse not to be in pain(or as much). He may well need protection & mechanical support that you can't provide well enough with boots, and as mentioned, there are other fixed alternatives to steel peripheral rims.

And again, esp as it sounds like it is due(mostly at least) to mechanical probs, if you'd like to post pics, may be able to give you more specific info there.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-10-2019, 05:51 AM
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@loosie , PNW means Pacific Northwest U.S. So basically rainforest weather.

Something that would concern me is that not only is he having abscesses but also pastern dermatitis and thrush. This despite being on dry footing such as pea gravel or sand? I'm speaking as someone with horses out 24/7 on the PNW coast in the winter also, and unless your horse is standing in mud, you should not be having those problems.

Has your horse been tested for Cushing's? I'd suspect either an immune system problem such as Cushing's might be leading to chronic infections, or else potentially there is a mineral deficiency you are missing as Loosie said.

If you want to provide the name and amount of hay, pellets and supplements you are feeding, I can put them into FeedXL to see if any major deficiencies come up. Sometimes a diet without pasture can actually have more deficiencies since the horse is getting only one or two types of hay versus a variety of different plants. I'm surprised sometimes (because I've run analysis through for a few different horses) how even someone giving a supposedly complete diet or vitamin supplement might be missing some major component like magnesium.
Even in our small barn, horses eating the same hay and pasture can have different supplement needs. That's because one horse might be eating 20 lbs of hay and another only 10, or one horse is getting a couple pounds of senior feed while the other is overweight, etc.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-10-2019, 08:42 AM
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@Pocketpony "Obviously there are cavities in each foot where the abscess were but how serious is this?"


It can range from something that can be dealt with by a good farrier and good nutrition to support new growth to something that needs more aggressive treatment. If the condition is chronic and there are large active pockets of infection then a vet needs to be involved to determine extent and treatment as well as testing for things that could contribute to the formation of abscesses.


Long term - damage and weighting can effect how the hooves grow. It can become permanent in extreme cases. One of my drafts was born with an abscessed hoof that looked like swiss cheese. Many small holes combined with several large holes throughout the entire hoof. That foal was kept in a small pen to restrict movement, on a wide assortment of meds and IV antibiotics before infection was brought under control. Farrier visits were as frequent and numerous as vet visits. Shoes weren't an option as the baby would lay down and pull them off before the farrier even got out of the drive. Once infection was eradicated she was on meds to keep her comfortable initially and just left to her own devices in the pasture. The hoof finally grew out but was clubbed and the other front was pancaked. Over the years the hooves came closer to normal but it took keeping after it for years. 20 years later she is still only worked on soft ground and only lightly. Mostly she is a pasture pet. Her hooves though are close enough to normal that most don't notice it.
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-10-2019, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Loosie, yes he is on the 2nd cycle with with steel shoes. Barefoot with boots no longer work for him. His conformation is not great. Big horse, cow hocked, long back, weak loin, hunter's bump and a slight roach that requires regular chiropractic work. He tends to stand with the problem hind foot in front of the other that causes the heel and bars to spread forward. The barefoot trimmers never wanted to touch the overgrown and flattened bars so I think that is where the problems started. Not bashing all barefoot trimmers, these two just did not want to clean up the bottom of the feet.

The abscesses are subsolar and drain from the coronary band as well as the sole once a hole was made there for it to drain.

Pacific Northwest is rain forest as Gottatrot mentioned. There is no getting away from wet even if there is no mud, gravel, sand everything gets water logged.

Gottatrot, I would so thankful if you took a look at the diet, here's his feed:

- Washington Timothy hay (confirmed low sugar as we have cushings & horse prone to laminitis in the barn) not sure of the weight but he is in perfect condition weigh wise for a 17hh horse so probably the correct %.
- Vit/Min supplement: https://www.madbarn.com/ca/product/o...equine-premix/
- Plain white table salt - 1 tablespoon/day
- Alfalfa hay cubes to mix in supplements
- Meds: previcox 1/4 of the dog pill each day.

I should also mention that he has hardly any topline even though he is working 5-6 days a week for 30-45 minutes doing low level dressage.

A few signs point to cushings/PPID but he was tested fall and was in the normal range, will test again this fall. Late to shed out, no topline, very hairy in the winter and did not get a nice shiny summer coat this year as usual. Vets here will not prescribe medication unless the bloodwork shows the disease.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-10-2019, 02:27 PM
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One thing to consider is that he may be getting too much iron, and you may need to supplment zinc and copper (although I'm interested to see what @gottatrot comes back with). I don't know where in the PNW you are, but where I'm moving the soil is very high in iron and low in selenium, and I'm under the impression that most of the west/wet areas are the same. If your hay comes from western Washington, it will reflect that, but most likely it comes from Eastern Washington. I think the issue isn't as severe on that side, but I don't know for sure. Having said that, if he's getting a lot of his calories through forage on your pastures, it may be that his iron is too high, and that could cause hoof problems.

I sympathize with the constant wetness. I'm still in Texas, but planning on moving my three horses out there in a few years. I can't imagine that being that wet is good for their feet. I am planning on building a well-drained dry-lot and keeping them on that in the winter, plus run-in stalls in the barn. I talked to one of my new neighbors and she says she puts Keratex on her horses hooves every single day in the winter. I don't think that's really recommended, but it's something that she does. She says she doesn't have problems with abcesses.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-10-2019, 08:48 PM
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Agree with @ACinATX . Your Eastern WA hay should be fine as far as iron goes, it is not wet over there and the issue is usually low selenium. The hay we've tested from Eastern OR and WA has been low NSC so good for Cushing's horses, etc but low Selenium.

Since we don't have your exact hay analysis this is based off low Selenium Timothy and your vitamin, plus a half pound of alfalfa cubes and salt.

The Sodium and Iodine appear low on the graph because FeedXL thinks 1 Tbsp of salt is not enough for a horse that large. I personally just put out a salt lick and let the horse decide what they need for salt since I assume it varies with temperature and exercise, plus it is super hard to get horses to eat salt.

Your copper on the graph is on the low side and it assumes you are getting quite a bit from the hay (28% of the amount is from your vitamin supplement). If your hay does not have as much copper, the horse could probably use a good hoof supplement with copper and zinc added in the right ratios. It could definitely help, and many people say adding copper and zinc also helps keep away scratches.
The iron on the graph looks a bit high but FeedXL considers that in a safe range, but it would help to add more copper and zinc to make the ratio better.

I wouldn't worry about the B vitamins because horses make those in the gut, so if your horse has a healthy gut he is probably making enough on his own.

The Selenium deficiency is likely, and probably there is a Vitamin E deficiency too since your horse is not on pasture. 72% of the amount shown on the graph is listed coming from the hay. Unless your barn gets the hay right from the field and does not store it for months, there probably is not that much E in the hay since it degrades quickly out of dried hay.
Both Selenium and Vitamin E deficiency can create a poor topline because they are important for muscle development. If a horse is deficient in one, they will use more of the other as well. A good supplement I've used in the past is Elevate SE from Kentucky Equine Research which provides Selenium and Vitamin E together. Smartpak also has pellets with Selenium and E.
https://www.smartpakequine.com/ps/sm...iABEgIDCvD_BwE

It looks like your vitamin supplement is pretty good comparatively, but could provide more Vitamin E and most don't add Selenium just in case people use them from Selenium rich areas, which most of us get our hay from Eastern OR and WA which has Selenium poor soil.



My own horse had low level symptoms of Cushing's with immune issues for several years before we started her on medication. She had the longer hair coat, and got an abscess in her neck after vaccines, and also pneumonia. She still is slightly prone to thrush but has not had any other infections since we started her on the medication a few years ago.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-10-2019, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
Barefoot with boots no longer work for him.
What does that mean exactly?

Quote:
The barefoot trimmers never wanted to touch the overgrown and flattened bars
Oh so only one hind is a problem? Yes, run forward heels & overgrown bars can definitely cause probs, including abscesses. His hoof 'confo' may be to do with his body issues to some degree, but keeping them well managed & balanced, providing support, such as a 'frog support wedge' under the *frog, NOT heel walls* should help compensate for placement/weighting issues because of his 'upstairs probs'. If he MUST be shod, you need to work out how to *relieve* any toe and heel wall pressure, and provide support & protection under the foot.

Quote:
The abscesses are subsolar and drain from the coronary band as well as the sole once a hole was made there for it to drain.
Subsolar abscesses don't track up, unless there is massive separation under the walls too. So sounds like he probably does need major resection.

Quote:
I should also mention that he has hardly any topline even though he is working 5-6 days a week for 30-45 minutes doing low level dressage.
Sounds like he's not in any state to be doing that work. Yes, cushings is absolutely a big thing to check out/deal with, esp as he's had long term, major sounding body issues too.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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