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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

CC - Farley! (and answer)

So I'm cheating.  This week it was a CC and I was the winner.  :).

I learned several important lessons this evening.
1. Just like it is ALWAYS neoplasia in small animal medicine, it is ALWAYS thrush in horses.
2. The horse is always right.

Over the last couple of weeks Farley has been NQR on her right hind.  This is the same one as the old wire injury, that I had problems with over the winter.  It was really subtle.  The kind of NQR-ness that you only catch out of the corner of your eye and lightly sits on your gut.  I couldn't put my finger on it.  A bit of a toe first landing when walking her out of her pen.  A bit more stabby at the trot than I remembered.  Relunctance to sit down on that hind end during dressage work.

But it was so subtle, I wasn't sure whether I was making it up.  That's how subtle it was.  Finally, last week I chalked it up to her hocks decided to have them re-radiographed and possibly injected prior to starting our ride season.  That, combined with our conditioning would sort the issue out.  If there even WAS an issue.

Today the plan was to fit some new boots (I'm trying out a pair of "vipers" from Renegade!) and go out for a quick trail ride.  The boots are going on the hinds so I started with them, picking them in preperation for a quick rasp to get a balanced foot.

Her frog on the right hind has been trying to shed for a while, but it has been taking longer than usual.  I haven't been worried about thrush since her sole is hard, her frog doesn't have a central deep sulcus, and the bars are flat.  There's more sole in her foot than I would like, but I don't get too aggressive with a knife, so I've just been keeping a nice roll on the foot and keeping the heels and wall down and seeing what the foot has to offer.  The walls of her foot look "tall" from the outside, but from the bottom there was nothing to cut off.

Today, I dug in with the pick and bottom of her foot fell off.

What the......

That "bar" of sole separated from the inside of the wall of the hoof, from the toe, to the heel, continuing right down to the bars.  Literally the entire bottom of her hoof fell off, exposing at least 3/8" of wall above the true sole, all the way around, including her heel and bars.

I was so fascinated I didn't even go and grab the camera.  I stood there and poked and prodded.

There was stinky black tar stuff EVERYWHERE.  Especially at the seat of the corn at the heels (that little triangle area where the hoof wall takes a right turn and forms the heel.  No WONDER she was subtly landing toe first!!!!!

Of course, it was a thrush problem.

I immediately abandoned my thoughts of a ride and set to work on the foot.  I grabbed the rasp and took down the walls, especially at the heel, until I could get to the bottom of where the black stuff was at the white line.  I didn't do a full "trim" and didn't take the walls down to the sole - just enough that my hoof pick was no longer disappearing and the "canyons" had become "canals".

My options at the barn were diluted bleach and copper tox.  I chose the bleach and after rinsing did a spray.

I'll be bringing some tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar with me (and cotton balls) tomorrow.

I turned her out and she galloped off perfectly sound.  None of the subtle, out of the corner of my eye toe stabby thing.  I couldn't believe how fast her foot looked better and how much better she moved with the little I did.

I think I remember something about thrush being made up of mostly anaerobic bacteria and organisms and exposing them to air is half the battle.  After taking the walls down a bit, spraying with the diluted bleach and letting her run around in the dry arena, the foot looked better than I would have thought possible, knowing that 30 minutes ago it looked like a tar pit.

As long as everything continues to look good and she's moving good, I'll do my rides in the next week or so in boots.  Otherwise her feet are in good shape and I suspect that the deep wire injury crevice probably was a starting point for the bacteria in that foot.  I wonder whether the thrush was actually the lameness issue from the winter and it wasn't the injury "shifting"?  We've had really dry weather....and then BAM - a couple of days where it POURED - perhaps the recent wet spell allowed it to "bloom" again and the foot had softened enough that I could get access to it through the sole.  Mmmm.....

Let's review the lessons learned (which is ironic since lessons 1-3 I've taught countless other people...)

1.  If it's a slight lameness, it could be thrush
2. If it's a major lameness, it could be thrush
3.  If there's no lamaness, it could be thrush.
4. Farley is the best.  Doesn't become a drama queen about "wrongness", but also doesn't hide it.  I just need to get better at listening. 
5.  I love feet.  There is nothing better than horse feet and the fact I was so facinating and engrossed in this pathology process that I was unable to document it for my dear Readers has to tell be some indication of that :)


  1. That's crazy that the whole bottom came off! Very interesting post. I learned something for certain.

  2. What was really interesting was seeing the evidence of the toe first landing in the foot. when the "false" sole peeled away, leaving the wall of the hoof protruding up, it was the tallest at the heel. However the sole near the toe was so thin it was almost down to the dermis (could see the pink, live sole/wall junction etc). Knowing how very very very thin the dead sole was because the bacteria had eaten so much, was one reason I was so conservative about taking the wall down - want to protect that new sole right now, until it has a couple of days to proliferate.


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