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.
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.
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.
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.
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.