The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Yup, it was an abscess. I came out yesterday morning to find that it had finally erupted at Rose's coronet band, and she was walking a little more easily.

There it is, draining out down the front of her hoof.
Well, abscess is good news - much better news than an injury. Her walking continued to improve, and this evening, although still limping, she was trucking along at a pretty normal speed. The fetlock was still swollen this morning, and my trimmer friend said the cause may be lack of circulation in that foot due to the curtailment of movement and weight-bearing.

You can see how much more swollen the near fetlock and pastern
are. (It's more common for an abscess not to cause this swelling.) 

And this photo demonstrates something else. Namely, her coon-footedness. Yes, I have coincidentally just found out the name for these kinds of legs, where the pastern is flat and the fetlock dropped. There are all kinds of scary words associated with this condition - e.g. long-term damage to the suspensory ligament. However, we will just take a positive attitude and continue trimming in the confident expectation of gradual improvement.

Abscesses can be caused by stretching and detaching of the laminae, caused in turn by long toes leveraging the hoof wall away from the internal structures. Necrotic tissue forms, which the body then has to expel. Rose has a band (about 2") of new, healthier hoof wall growth at the top of her feet, but the hoof wall below that is stretched and flared. I assume the abscess has formed in that area. Unfortunately it seems to have had to work its way up through the healthier tissue to find an exit. My good trimmer friend re-affirms the need to keep her toes as short as possible to minimize leveraging and optimize the position of breakover.

My other trimming mentor is someone whom I've never met, who lives far away. When I emailed her to ask about the abscess, I mentioned the coon-footedness. She immediately replied that for such a young horse to be coon-footed already suggests that she has a "hunter bump" and a "sacral sprain." Well, I wasn't exactly sure what a hunter bump is, so I asked. It is a high spot right at the top of the croup, with a slight dip in front of it. So I sent her this photo of Rose and asked if this was what she's talking about:

She said oh yes indeed, and that slight lumbar bulge is called a "roach," and it's a sign of sacral sprain and often develops in response to pain in the front feet. Oh, I've got a lot to learn.

She also remarked that the boxy appearance of her feet indicate that the bars need to be lowered to the level of the sole. That's something I'd do anyway, in keeping with the trimming school I follow, but I have not worked with Rose's feet nearly as much as I should have (as she really doesn't like to stand on three legs), and I fear the bars are in fact overgrown. My local trimmer friend is hopefully coming over tomorrow, and we'll work on it together.

Did I mention that Rose won't eat her uveitis Chinese herb apple sauce any more? I pendulumed it, and got a straight back and forth swing, so I assume she knows what she's doing. The eye is back to the way it always was before the uveitis flare-up. I guess the cloudy spot that remains is just scar tissue.

She's a deep one, that Rose.

I was struck by the fact that the whole time when her foot was so painful, she remained rather upbeat. It hurt so much to put weight on that foot, she would grunt every time she had to take a step. But her appetite remained hearty, and she never seemed depressed.

What with one thing and another, Rose is teaching me a lot.


  1. It is so scary to notice how much pain they can hide from us, even when we really try to see every little sign.

    Very interesting things, I'll have to google "hunter bump" and "sacral sprain" and hopefully find out more!

  2. They say you learn something new every day. I am glad you were able to find out what Rose's problem was and that she is on the road to recovery :)
    As for the rest of your post....what neat information. I have heard of a hunter bump before, but never had any idea that it anything to do with the front legs....
    very interesting..
    Griffin also suffers from foot confirmation issues. His years at the track and how he was shod during racing have created a huge long-toe, low heel syndrome (worse on his front feet). I do feel he has gotten a bit better over the years, but he will never be 100%. I've gone through many farriers because of it....trying to find one that knew what they were doing and didn't make him sore. He is a hard horse to trim and gets sore easily if you take his toes back too far.
    My current hoof guy does an excellent job in that he only trims the bare minimum of what Grif needs and he never makes him sore.
    Grif, of course, doesn't wear shoes either...and I think that helps too..

  3. My horse two morning ago was VERY lame. Now her leg looks just like your second picture. This is the only picture i have been able to find that looks like what hers looks like. How long did it take for the abscess to come to head? How long was she limping before? I have had a slight suspition that she was graveling, but now i'm unsure. ANY information you may be willing to tell me would be very helpful, Thank you, Barb (barbwire929@yahoo.com)