SIGNS OF A HOOF AB­SCESS

EQUUS - - Hands On -

Next, con­sider the floor. Re­move any bales cur­rently stored and sweep the space clean. Be on the look­out for signs of ro­dent in­fes­ta­tion, such as ex­ces­sive drop­pings or nests. If the floor is smooth and raised, such as ply­wood in a loft over a barn, you can stack the new bales di­rectly on it. If, how­ever, the floor is dirt or con­crete, it can wick mois­ture up to the stored hay. In that case, you’ll want to put down tarp to act as a bar­rier and put pal­lets on top of it to al­low air to cir­cu­late be­neath the bales. This will keep the bot­tom layer of bales dry. (If the walls of your hay-stor­age space are cin­der block or con­crete, you will have the same mois­ture-wick­ing is­sue. In that case, make sure your stacked hay doesn’t touch the walls.)

Fi­nally, scru­ti­nize the door and any win­dows to en­sure they shut tightly and do not leak. If it doesn’t have one al­ready, con­sider adding a horse-proof latch to the door to pro­tect your hay from stall and pad­dock es­capees who may be look­ing to raid the hay stash.

When the stor­age area is prepped, stack the new hay in­side neatly, then place the older bales to­ward the front of the area where they will be used first. Nutri­ents in hay de­grade over time, so you don’t want bales sit­ting around un­eaten any longer than nec­es­sary.

A horse standing on three legs is a chill­ing sight. Se­vere in­jury leaps to mind, of course, but the prob­lem may be a rel­a­tively sim­ple hoof ab­scess, which is painful but usu­ally easy to re­solve. To help dis­tin­guish an ab­scess from a se­ri­ous in­jury, an­swer these ques­tions:

Is there any swelling on the limb? Acute ten­don, bone or lig­a­ment in­juries come with as­so­ci­ated swelling. Look over the limb and feel for ar­eas of soft or hard swelling that may or may not be ten­der or hot to the touch.

Is there a wound? Wounds are

typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with trauma. The ex­cep­tions are ab­scesses that rup­ture and send pus through a break in the sur­face. These may leave a small wound above the coro­nary band or at the heel.

Does the limb look straight? Com­pare the limb to its op­po­site. A dis­lo­cated or dam­aged joint can cause a limb to take an odd ori­en­ta­tion that might not be im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent.

How does the hoof feel? Some­times ab­scesses cause the hoof it­self to feel warm and the dig­i­tal pulse, felt on the pastern, to “bound.”

If you sus­pect your horse has an ab­scess in­stead of an in­jury, breathe a sigh of re­lief, but still touch base with your vet­eri­nar­ian. You’ll want to be sure you haven’t over­looked any sig­nif­i­cant signs of trou­ble as well as get some pain re­lief for your horse. For as long as he’s not bear­ing weight on one limb, he’ll be plac­ing ex­tra stress on the other three, which could lead to se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing lamini­tis .

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