The Owie Footie

As I’ve glossed over a few times lately, Henry is currently lame. He’s been lame for a few weeks now, since a couple days after I moved out to the farm (exceptional timing Henry, thank you). It came on suddenly and fairly acutely, like an abscess or a bad bruise, and I had reason to believe it could be exactly that. You see, the day that the other horses left for Florida, the turnout situation was modified for the new smaller group that stayed behind, and Henry moved out to the front field, while the other 3 horses went into the field he had been in before. Basically they stayed in the same groups, just traded places. Henry decided this was completely unsuitable.

For the most part he just paced silently, or grazed aggressively, but I caught him galloping up and down the fenceline a few times, as horses sometimes do. That particular fenceline does have some rocks around it… not a lot, but enough to where it was certainly believable that he could have stomped on one during a fit of rage. It also was the only area on the entire property that was muddy, and he took to standing there in the muddiest corner for pretty much the entire day, sulking. Ripe conditions for an abscess. He can be a total turd about change sometimes, but usually it’s short-lived, so I just figured I’d give him a few days to settle. He wasn’t belligerent, he was just displeased. Then he came up lame and I gave up and moved him to a different turnout, which luckily has seemed to appease him.

A little too late at that point though, because like I said, now he was lame. At first I couldn’t even quite tell which leg it was, he kinda looked lame on a couple of them. I sent videos and a description of what had been going on to the vet, who said it sounded like a bruise or an abscess, and to treat it like an abscess for a few days to see if anything would come out. So I did animalintex and kept waiting to see some kind of sign of rupture. Nothing came. The lameness got better but didn’t go away completely.

Ok, so let’s switch gears… maybe it’s a deep bruise. In goes the magic cushion and the bute. It got better for a time, then he came in from turnout one day basically 3-legged. WTF. I freaked out. Did he break his freakin coffin bone or something? WAS it an abscess that was just taking a long time to surface? I was sending videos to the vet like a lunatic. This was the night before Thanksgiving, of course.

To confuse things even further, the next morning he came out of his stall like 95% sound. Still no sign of a ruptured abscess.

Image result for shrug gif

So the vet came out the next day and pulled the shoe, looking to see if we could find any sign of what was going on. Pretty sure the vet was expecting to find a ruptured abscess that I had just missed the exit track of, but let me tell you I know every millimeter of that horse’s hoof by now. I didn’t miss a ruptured abscess. Henry was positive to the hoof testers on pretty much the whole outside rim of the foot (have I mentioned this is his most crooked foot, that deviates to the outside, and he does naturally land on the outside of that foot first?) but especially towards the back of the foot closer to the last nail hole. The vet pared away a tiny bit of sole in the most reactive area, but was hesitant to take very much. There was no sign of an abscess that we could easily find.

He had me continue to put the animalintex around the back of the heel and the coronary band, in case an abscess was trying to find a way out, but paint the sole with Durasole and pack with Magic Cushion, in case it was a bruise. So that was a fun thing to try to do every night, as Henry proceeded to get wilder and wilder as each day passed without getting ridden (right now he just kind of stands in his stall all night snorting like a feral arabian stallion constantly, so that’s fun). There is no way in hell I could keep him stall rested 24/7 while the other horses are outside, so I’ve just been wrapping the foot up like crazy and hoping for the best. I’ve walked through his pasture and picked up every rock I could, and I’ve closed his back stall door so that he can’t pace around the stall run at night, but that’s about all I can do.

Lord help us

After a few days of this I texted the vet back and said that Henry was pretty much the same, so he came out again and we took xrays. Luckily the bones all look fine, no sign of fracture (although there is some other remodeling in that foot that isn’t much of a surprise given his age/job/conformation… none of it would explain this lameness though). His soles are slightly thin, about 11mm, but definitely not enough to cause an ongoing problem like this. There was a little slightly shadowed area on the xray toward the back of the outside rim of his hoof that could possibly be an abscess, or a really bad sub-solar bruise, but nothing that screamed “this is for sure the problem”.

At this point he was now also shoe-less on that foot since we had to pull it, which doesn’t help no matter how much I wrap it. Is he getting better? Maybe. He needs a shoe back on. But the foot is not really in good enough shape to take much pounding, plus the vet wants to get his sole up higher off the ground for a while. Neither of us are a fan of full pads, and he doesn’t really want a farrier hammering into the foot right now. He recommended a glue-on shoe that gives about the same ground clearance as a regular shoe plus a rim pad. They are fancy.

GLUSHU is an aluminum core horseshoe with a vulcanized rubber cuff
with endless configurations and applications”

I called my farrier, he ordered the shoes, and hopefully they should be here today. Which is good, because when I got home yesterday Henry had ripped off the OTHER front shoe, and naturally this morning he’s sore on that foot, and looks pretty good on the right one. JFC, I give up.

Image result for exasperated gif

So we’re kind of in stasis at the moment. We need to get the glue-on shoes put on and see how he looks, then go from there. The horse is zero percent stoic, so it’s hard to get any real idea of how he looks when he doesn’t have a shoe. We know for sure that the lameness is coming from the right front hoof, and we know for sure that none of the bones are the cause. That’s where we’re at. Hopefully it’s either a deep stubborn abscess or a bad subsolar bruise. There’s also the possibility that he damaged the soft tissue inside the foot (like a ligament), but there’s really no way to tell that without an MRI, and… we’re definitely not there yet.

So for now I muck stalls and I wrap feet and I try not to murder Henry when he snorts and wheels in circles because I tossed a flake of hay into his stall, or moved the hose, or… like… breathed too loud.

I love horses. I love horses. I love horses.

23 thoughts on “The Owie Footie

  1. Tractor Supply sells some blue boots by Davis called Tough Boots that are fairly inexpensive ($25 each). I have used them for abscesses and the just plain thin soles = sore feet issues mine have on a regular basis. I don’t know if you’ve seen them or not, but they work really well for turnout, especially when I throw some nice thick pads (Easy Boot Clouds are the ones I use) in them. They might be an option if the glue on shoes wind up not working as well as expected. They’re kinda goofy-looking, but my chronically lame mare gets around just fine in them and is much happier when she’s got them on. Just a thought.


    1. He’s destroyed one of those Davis boots in one day before. I bought him Cavallo boots since they’re intended for turnout or riding, but really he just needs for his new shoes to come in so we can get them on him and assess from there.


      1. I do have one mare they didn’t fit well (five different types of boots tried and failed – including my beloved Clouds!), so she now sports a set of composite shoes on her fronts. I like that they flex, but are still nailed on and have clips. They work for her, but I know they wouldn’t for Henry – no stud holes!


  2. Hugs! Get well soon Henny! My newest girl just finished abscess hell, on and off for a year since leaving the track. I feel your pain #abscesswatch2019. I’m sure it’s nothing serious, just Henny giving you something to wrory about lol.


  3. I love the phrase angry grazing. Like he was so mad he had to try to eat his feelings but was still trapped in a glass case of emotion.


  4. you know what’s more fun than obsessing about your lame horse? obsessing about your lame horse when they are LITERALLY in your backyard. Fingers crossed that it’s just a deep bruise that is A) taking forever to heal and B) Henry is being a giant pansy about.


    1. Yeah, pretty much! Although I will say, I’m glad to at least have the barn stuff to take care of every day. It gives me something to fill my time, and I’m still getting my horse fix. No riding, but at least I’m not completely off the rails!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Far from a frequent commenter, but just wanted to say I went through the same. damn. thing. this spring and also ended up going the glue-on shoe route. Took some time but he eventually came sound, and we are none the wiser as to what was wrong in the first place. It was a super frustrating cycle, as whatever we did treatment-wise seemed to have no correlation whatsoever with it getting better or worse. We have now done a few cycles with the glue-on ($$$$) and apparently whatever funky was going on in there has sorted itself out? Who knows.


  6. Had a similar sounding situation this spring. Eventually (almost 60 days later 😬) a monster abscess burst from the top of his heel bulb. I seem to always get caught in the to bute or not to bute loop, when it probably would have helped for me to just soak, soak, soak. Hoping for the least bad ailment in the list and that it resolves asap!


    1. That’s kind of why we’ve been doing the animalintex at the heel bulb/coronary band but treating the sole like a bruise. Because if its a bruise and you just soak soak soak the whole foot, you turn the thing to mush and make bruises worse. But if its an abscess and you don’t help it find a way out, it lingers forever. It’s so hard to decide which thing is best when you don’t really know for sure what you’re dealing with. UGH. This would all be a lot easier if horses could talk and tell us what happened lol.


  7. I also used the glue-ons for a time, and they worked a charm so long as I got the glue exactly, precisely. *right*. Mixing, applying and drying. Check out the glue-mixing protocol and any extra fiddly pieces needed, because it all mattered, as it turned out. But the good part was that when they needed to be reset, I could do some rasping and then put the shoes on myself without a farrier. And the time the shoes went on in a best-case-scenario way, they stayed on 4-6 weeks, even with some light walk-trot riding in an arena.
    In my horse’s case, though, once the weather became rainy and humid, we could not get the glue stickum to last more than a week to 10 days. After several long heart-to-heart phone calls with the manufacturer it was determined that mixing and applying the glue need to be done on low-humidity days, particularly if it was wet generally at the time.
    Also the black glue will stick hard and stain whatever surface the horse is standing on when applied, in case that matters. The barn owner was not too happy about the black stains after the first use, so after that we did it on the asphalt drive.
    I used the Easyshoe brand.
    Good luck! Hope this comes right soon!


    1. I’m definitely going to let my farrier do it, since he’s experienced with using and applying these. I’d rather pay him and have them stay on! He said he’s had great success getting them to last a full cycle, so we’ll see. My vet did say that he’s had less luck with Easyshoes, which is why he preferred GluShu. I dunno, I’ve never used any of it so I’m gonna do what they prefer and see how it goes!


  8. I too have been on the struggle bus with a chronic mild lameness. Not that this is what is going on here, but my horse ended up with a fractured coffin bone. It was so small it couldn’t be seen on an x-ray but lit up on a bone scan. Took more than a year of special shoeing but we got him back to normal. Probably don’t want to go down the bone scan route at the moment, but just thought I would mention my experience.


  9. Ugh. Lameness with no explanation is the worst. I hope the glue on shoes work and he heals whatever this is. Not sure if it is a possibility in your area but I have had a few horse friends have a hoof ultrasound performed and got answers for a lot less stress and money than a MRI. There is a specialist in Aiken that pretty much now only does this and apparently she has found some really cool soft tissue injuries deep in the hoof. I haven’t seen it done myself. I know they have to soak the hoof for a while to get it wet enough that the sound waves can penetrate through the hoof wall. Anyway. It may be an option for you to save an the MRI if the shoes don’t work.


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