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

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hoof Clues

A pretty, rangy, blue-eyed, kind, paint mare, about 15 years old and about 15 hands high. Living on a well-drained grassy pasture, after coming off a muddy wet one a month or two ago.

When I first meet her, she stands with her RF parked way out in front. This is puzzling, as closer examination shows that her toes, while long, are not spectacularly so, and the laminae are hardly stretched. In fact, her hoofs are very nicely worn, considering she had been living on soft ground for a year without trimming.

All four heels have deep fissures between the bulbs. The heels are not contracted, but the temporary owner tells me that the mare had thrush in her frogs when she first came off the wet ground. After aggressive treatment with a hoof pick and bleach, the frogs cleared up nicely and are now dry and clean. However, the hoof fissures remain. A close-up sniff reveals a bad smell. So - given that heel fungus can be painful - why is the mare weighting that RF heel, rather than the toe?

The mare is helpful and stands pretty well despite having difficulty distributing her weight on three not-so-happy hoofs.

Finally, I notice a slight bruise about two inches up on her RF toe wall. Aha. The owner had told me that the mare had been ridden for over an hour a day or two ago. I imagine the length of toe, combined with a workout, was enough to cause leveraging and bruising.

After trimming, the mare stands much straighter. I feel there is more toe that could come off and that there is probably some false sole present. But I'm not a big believer in trying to do it all in one go.

I ask the owner to walk the mare out. Despite her toes being much shorter, she walks with one of the most definite toe-first landings I've encountered. Aha again. The heel fungus is probably painful, causing her to deliberately land toe first. Which, with her long toe, would have exacerbated the leveraging in her hoof wall when she was being exercised - hence the bruise. In movement, the heel pain possibly trumps the toe pain, while at rest, the toe pain is worse.

I recommend that the owner resume treatment with the bleach solution, pouring directly into the fissures. If there's no rapid improvement, she should switch to a mixture of human antibiotic ointment and human athlete's foot ointment, applied into the fissure with a Q-tip. And go easy on the exercise.

Here's what I wish I'd thought to point out to the owner: this is maybe why the mare bucked at first when she was being exercised the other day.

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