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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may be a little long because I do have to give a little bit of history so please bare with me. I have a 24 year old breeding stock paint mare. I have had her since she was 11. Approximately two years or so ago, the barn owner managed to let her outside of her paddock and she ran around the whole property like a banshee. She ended up coming back with a stone bruise on the left front.

Since that stone bruise, we have had abscesses with her off and on in the left foot. Very rarely, they would pop up in the right. Sometimes they would come once a month, other times she would go months without getting one and then POOF, one would spring up. Given the barn she was at, at the time, I attributed it to the environment as I lived in coastal Florida and it was often wet. While living here, her feet were done with just a natural trim (mustang roll). I had seen better feet but at the time, I did not know if it was just her feet, or it was a farrier thing.

Fast forward to late last year and this year. I moved her to a new barn that is nice and does not have standing water after a rain. It is a new area so also a new farrier. When he first did her feet, I was amazed at how GREAT they looked. I mean, they NEVER once looked that great in the 13 years that I have now owned her. Shortly thereafter, she abscessed on me in the front left. It popped, she was good for about three weeks and as of right now, she has an abscess brewing in her RIGHT FRONT (which is very rare for her).

At this point, I am unsure if she has just been trimmed incorrectly for years and now, that she is being trimmed correctly, it is a fighting battle. OR, if I need to stick with a farrier who does the mustang roll.

The vet was out yesterday so we decided to go ahead and get xrays. I will post the link to the xrays at the bottom of this post. Long story short, he told me that she has pedal osteitis in the front right and on the left, which has been the problem hoof, she has pedal osteitis, as well as central P3 lucency (possible keratoma or infection). Given her history of abscesses, I am thinking more along the lines of infection. The vet says a lot of her coffin bone has been eaten away and even if we did do surgery (via his office, would run between $2500-3000) that he doesn't foresee a good outcome and recommended euthanasia.

Even though she is 24, she is in great health otherwise. Shiny coat, good weight and when she doesn't have an abscess, she enjoys her life. Which is another thing I want to point out. The only time she is in pain is when she has an abscess. If her hooves are really that bad to the point that she needs to be euthanized, wouldn't she be lame even when she doesn't have an abscess? She was trotting around the pasture as if there was nothing wrong when she did not have an abscess.

Could the "moth-eaten" coffin bone simply be showing where her numerous abscesses in the past have tracked? I just cannot imagine that a horse with a coffin bone infection (or a keratoma) would be trotting herself around in the pasture, with all her approximately 1200 lbs.

Any suggestions, or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. I was very upset yesterday and thankfully, I called my mother because she suggested that I get a second opinion. I have sent the xrays off to the University so hopefully will hear from them soon.

I also do want to mention that when I kept on her feet every day, she didn't seem to get abscesses but when I had to go out of state, I had someone care for her that did not clean her feet as often and it seems she got more then.

Here is a link to the xrays. Thank you very much in advance.

https://wf1.antechimagingservices.c...l.html?token=3e03e70414c91c66f1330f4e1f8fa168
 

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Let me first offer my condolences. I do not have any experience with this other than to say that yes a horse with an infection of the bone in the foot can suffer from chronic abcess. Euthanasia seems extreme but may be the only option once those bones are gone and your mare is down permanently. The abcess causes the lamebness you see but she probably has some pain most days. Horses are stoic animals and hide pain because in the wild the weak one is eaten first.

Only you can make the final decision for her. Sorry you had such a dire diagnosis. And FWIW a second opinion is always a good idea.
 

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Wow, I've never seen that level of coffin bone degradation.
Are you certain your horse is not lame other than when she is obviously limping? People can adjust their eyes to seeing a horse moving abnormally, until they believe they are sound. I've had people tell me their horse was sound when the horse was obviously gimping around.
One way you can tell if a horse is having chronic pain is by looking at their body structure. How they hold themselves and stand can be good indicators of if/how they are compensating for pain. Also abnormal muscle development.
If you posted photos of your horse, people here would probably be able to tell you if there were signs of chronic pain.
However, I could almost believe she is not in pain unless abscessing, due to the amount of sole depth she has. That being said, due to her issue involving the bones inside the hoof, there is probably no way to keep her from abscessing over and over.
Most likely the vet is correct in saying the humane thing to do would be to put her down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for all of the replies. The vet from the University called, couldn't access the link so I just got done sending him the images so we will see what he seems to think.

I should emphasize that she is just a pasture pet and would only need to be pasture sound. When she is not blowing an abscess, she is fine. Her abscess that we are dealing with now just actually opened up today and already, she is putting her full weight on it and getting around much better.*

While I am sure there is some pain when she does not have an abscess, given the internal structures, she is bright eyed and loves life, she doesn't seem miserable and in pain. I know horses are stoic but there is no body language that indicates she is in massive pain outside of the abscesses.

So, I guess it is a matter if we can get the abscesses from continuing how they have been. I think if we could get good control of that, she would be okay. That is where the trimming comes in but I don't know if it's best to not be so drastic - I mean, before her trims were mediocre and now I have a really great farrier so I am unsure if that is too much of a big change for her.

Thanks again for the information and advice. I will keep everyone updated on to how she is doing.
 

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I should emphasize that she is just a pasture pet and would only need to be pasture sound....
While I am sure there is some pain when she does not have an abscess, given the internal structures, she is bright eyed and loves life, she doesn't seem miserable and in pain. I know horses are stoic but there is no body language that indicates she is in massive pain outside of the abscesses.
My vet says that "pasture sound" should not imply a horse that is severely lame or in constant pain. It should mean a horse that is in no pain on soft ground, and that only has issues with sustained work.

Looking at those xrays again, the destruction of the bone in the hoof has caused severe deformation of the outer hoof capsule also, and there is no way the horse is able to move and stand normally. I am sorry but I think you are believing you don't see signs of pain even though the signs are there. When you say loves life, does that mean she canters around the field? Or does she walk everywhere and lay down frequently?

I had a mare in massive pain from foundering, and she had bright eyes, showed interest in other horses and continued eating. That didn't mean she wasn't suffering. Horses have a very strong survival instinct and usually won't show a depressed state unless they are certain their death is imminent.

I think you are being naive if you believe this comes down to hoof trimming. Meaning, instead of thinking your horse is going to be OK long term, I'd be thinking about when the best time would be in the near future to let her go. Maybe she hasn't reached that level of suffering in your mind yet, but she will very soon and this is not something that can be reversed or fixed. She won't grow new hoof bones. The structure of the outer hoof grows from the soft tissue around those bones, and in my opinion all of that is disrupted to the point where she will soon be unable to grow a supportive shell at all.
 

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I've had some horses with hoof issues, founder and so on, and I've never seen an Xray that showed such degradation in all my life with them. Unfortunately, I have to say I'm with your vet on this one. Not necessarily a put her down today kind of thing but......soon, for her sake. We owe it to them to have their best interests at heart, even when it breaks ours. Were she mine, I would pick a nice, warm, spring, sunny day when she can go out to pasture and hand graze, get a nice spa treatment and then toward the end of the day, I would give her grace. I'm sorry.
 

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Have seen Xrays of foundered horses with rotated coffin bones close to penetrating the soles. Haven't seen an xray with a coffin bone that degraded. Kindest act of love you could do is lay her to rest,on a nice sunny day. Never easy to do, but doing right by them sometimes isn't easy and saying good bye one last time is extremely hard.
 

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Hiya just chipping in - sorry to hear the bad news. I would say before making a final decision DO try to get pictures of her feet (clean and as straight as possible when on the ground and angled appropriately when held up etc). DO try get videos of her moving freely and post them here. I recently had to put my 18yo dog down. Don't get me wrong, when I was around he was bright and happy. But all the other hours, at night, in the dark he ached and struggled to get comfortable. It was time even if the hours *in my presence* life for him looked bearable. I think life in general is an unbearable burden alone, let alone pain on top of it. The bearable hours are measured against our own happiness, not theirs. I totally believe it's possible she's a happy girl and the good days outweigh the bad but you will rarely find vets or strangers advise anything other than euthanasia because the risk that your love for her might end up with her suffering terribly and you beating yourself up with guilt. Better to end on a happy, controlled note, where possible!

So.. the next best option is to find a way to keep you grounded. Like posting openly on a forum, regular vet visits etc to keep an objective eye on things so to speak. I've not been a member anywhere near as long as some on here but this is not a community that'll jump to euthanasia unless they really felt it was in the horse's best interests. Good luck it is NOT easy <3
 

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Hi,

First & foremost, if you want more specific advice, you can post hoof & body pics. Check out the link below in my signature for what's required of hoof pics. In the other link in my signature you will find sources for more info too - specifically hoofrehab.com is one that should help.

Wow, agree with others that I've not seen that level of osteoporosis - at least in an apparently mostly(assuming) sound horse. That's pretty significant. The good thing(well it's not actually, but...) is that horses commonly have a large degrees of osteoporotic pedal bones without obvious issue, and it's such a 'normal' state of affairs that 'porous' P3s are shown in text books as normal and they're not even diagnosed as such until they are quite significant & cause lameness.

I don't know any kind of surgery that could address that - interested to know what the vet's talking of there? There's also a bit of 'ringbone' going on above the extensor process and a bit of... messiness in the navicular region I think could cause some discomfort. And maybe it is time to face the hardest questions. But I don't *necessarily* agree with others that there is no hope for her, based just on these rads & what you've said.

Approximately two years or so ago, the barn owner managed to let her outside of her paddock and she ran around
This would not have been the cause of the problem, but if it was due to the osteoporosis it would be that it had by then progressed to the point of running around being too much for them to cope with. If it were due to a 'stone bruise' then that's due to the solar corium becoming bruised because soles are too thin to protect the inner structures. Of course, it could well have been both... But whatever, it was not the *start* of the problem.

we have had abscesses with her off and on in the left foot. Very rarely, they would pop up in the right.
If the abscesses are due to infection/irritation of tissue due to bone fragments or such, that may well be impossible to deal with, so best option would be to just manage her palliatively to ensure her comfort for as long as is possible or practical. If however, abscesses are due just to stone bruises, those long toes tearing at laminae, wet footing, for eg, then yes, this is likely treatable.
environment as I lived in coastal Florida and it was often wet. While living here, her feet were done with just a natural trim (mustang roll).
Yes, wet footing will not be helping her & to keep her on dry footing will be an important part of getting her hooves healthy...er. And while some will call anything without shoes a 'natural trim', what the rads show is not a *good* trim, but the toes are extremely long, for a start. I've drawn on the 2 lateral views, to show approx how I'd trim them to relieve extra leverage there. Can't say more about the trim just from the rads, but it won't be just a matter of trimming properly that may help her.

At this point, I am unsure if she has just been trimmed incorrectly for years and now, that she is being trimmed correctly, it is a fighting battle. OR, if I need to stick with a farrier who does the mustang roll.
Cannot comment on his work, aside from IF it was him that left toes so long, that's not good. Even with the best pics, I don't think it's generally fair to make judgement calls on farriery here, as there are so many details that can effect the appearance/specifics, and pics CAN tell inaccurate stories too. So I think there's no 'short cut' to getting yourself as educated as possible, so you can make a more informed decision as to whether your farrier of choice is doing good, bad or otherwise.

As said, getting/keeping her sound will not be just about the trim. with such weak P3s & thin soles, she will also need protection/support underneath, and I'd consider having her in padded boots. It IS possible to improve bone density, and stimulation(gentle, careful not to further harm) of the foot, ensuring it can function well, will enhance circulation & potentially bone density. BUT realistically, at her age & stage of damage, I wouldn't expect much improvement, even in ideal circumstances. A *good* trim should go a long way towards getting/keeping her sound though, if it is possible for it to do so - eg. abscesses not from disintegrating bone 'wanting out'.

As to the 'need a mustang roll', it seems that it depends who you talk to as to what that means. To me, a 'mustang roll' is simply bevelling the outer edge of the ground surface slightly, to mimic wear & reduce chipping & leverage when the horse is on hard/rough ground. But to some, it means a rather severe bevel of the whole width of the wall, done regardless of state of the foot or ground... and other different specifics to other people. Eg. the line of *roughly* where to trim I drew on your rads could, to some, be called a 'mustang roll'.

when she doesn't have an abscess, she enjoys her life. Which is another thing I want to point out. The only time she is in pain is when she has an abscess.
Ditto to others that it *may* be just that you're not seeing it. As an eg, years ago before I really learned about hooves(& they were a big cause of me wanting to do so) I didn't realise my donkey & pony were lame(neither did the vets or farriers that saw them) for a long time - then my donkey was lame, pronounced 'incureable' by the vet but also diagnosed as arthritic knees, nothing to do with his feet - until I finally managed to get their feet right & they then moved way differently - IOW I didn't realise they were lame until I saw what they were like when they weren't. :-(

But of course, you may be right and she is fine the rest of the time. Then you've got to weigh up how much ongoing/regular suffering due to abscesses is too much to humanely let her put up with...

Could the "moth-eaten" coffin bone simply be showing where her numerous abscesses in the past have tracked?
No, not to that kind of degree. This has been going on for a very long time. She doesn't necessarily have permanent infection/inflammation though - that would, IME likely cause her to be noticably lame the rest of the time too. But remember, horses are generally pretty stoic, and adrenaline also accounts for a lot - I've even seen a horse with pedal bone penetration on all 4 feet - leaving bloody footprints, but walk off a trailer apparently sound!! :-O
 

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If you haven't already, I'd strongly recommend posting these, and the information, to the Horse Vet Corner group on Facebook. One of the advising vets on there is an equine podiatrist and would be able to give you realistic feedback, along with resources and contacts. The vets there are incredible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all for such wonderful advice and taking the time to post. I really do appreciate it.

I will elaborate on some things. I got my mare when she was 11 and even then, she had a lot of toe, not much heel. So, when my original farrier trimmed her and she still had long toes and not much heel, I just thought it was the way her feet were.

I honestly didn't know her foot was capable of being "reshaped" I guess I could say. Fast forward to when I moved late last year and got a new farrier, her feet never looked so good. Everything was even on the soul and outer edges and while I am not expert as far as feet are concerned, it just overall looked like a well balanced hoof, what a normal hoof is supposed to look like. The heels were not flat on the ground, the toe was not long. Now, if you let her go past her 6 week schedule, the toe will grow out long and the heel will be flat to the ground.

Because of the last abscess in her left and then the one that sprung up in her right, she has had to go beyond her normal farrier schedule (he wanted me to get xrays first as well) so now her toe is pretty long, which is what you are seeing in the xrays.

I will take some pics today of her feet currently, I will try to find some pics of when my original farrier was still working on her as well.

I guess the one thing I really need advice on as well, is whether we should make such a drastic change in how she is normally trimmed. She had gone two months without an abscess before moving here. She moved here, I got her trimmed, she was very sore a few days after and then she popped an abscess, even though the trim looked beautiful (but way shorter and different than she is used to).

Either way, I know she needs a proper trim to help support the internal weakened structures but at the same time, should we be less drastic? I don't mind having the farrier out multiple times within her normal schedule if need be, I just want to do what is right for her so that we can minimize the chance of making her sore and blowing another abscess.

Additionally, in my research, I have read where years of incorrect trimming can actually cause degradation of the coffin bone. Along with the abscessing, I think it is very possible it has created this mess. Don't get me wrong, I do not blame my farrier - I should have been more proactive in making SURE everything was right and that was my screw up, I will beat myself up for it every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Loosie, sorry I forgot to mention in the above post, the vet was talking about going in there, removing any keratoma or infection, putting her on strong antibiotics via IV. He says that would be heroic efforts though, she wouldn't have a good chance at recovery and advised me to euthanize.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
These photos are older. They aren't the best, just ones I was able to find on my Facebook when she was under the original farrier. Now, I know I took a photo of the new farrier's work because I was so impressed, I just need to find it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This video was taken after she came out of stall rest about a month ago. She was still ouchy as the abscess was not totally healed up yet.

 

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I think i would consider euthanasia. The bone loss looks bad. The video shows a horse that is lame in both fronts but worse on the abscess foot.

At first i wanted to say give the horse more time with a competent farrier but those x rays look bad. keratomas can be removed but i don't know about this case. See what the university says. Also consider what medications you can give to keep her pain managed. My old mare has lameness issues and is maintained on equioxx. But abscess pain is often extremely severe. Perhaps banamine would be more appropriate?

You want to keep her as comfortable as possible until you come to a decision.
 
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