Instead of having a description of 3-yr.-old Gilford’s American Warmblood Society inspection, I report now on his recovery from a lameness issue. Once again his timing was perfect– he started slightly favoring his left hind leg on Saturday September 2, a week before his scheduled inspection. (I say ONCE AGAIN because last year right before his scheduled A.W.S. inspection he ALSO injured himself, the same left hind; well, that’s another whole story!)
Roundpen work after young horse is no longer lame from his abscess
Emmie noticed a slight hitch in his gait at the trot (only)– a dropping of one hip (or actually a hiking of the affected side)– but she could find no obvious cause or other symptoms, no heat or swelling or cuts or bruises. This went on for 4 days as she cold-hosed the leg; then on day 5 she found him limping worse and with swelling and some heat in the fetlock joint and just above, so we scheduled a local veterinarian to visit.
On Friday September 8 the vet examined him including hoof-testing for a possible sole bruise, but she could find no obvious injury either, so to rule things out she drew blood for a Lyme titer test because he had never been tested for Lyme disease before. (Apparently this is S.O.P. for horses with undiagnosed lameness in Connecticut, where Lyme disease is pretty prevalent in some areas.)
We play with Gilford and Emmie once more before bringing him back home
Meanwhile, the writing was on the wall that not only would Gilford miss his A.W.S. inspection [AGAIN], but he would not be sound for our week-long Acadia vacation either (September 10-17, Acadia National Park in Maine’s Bar Harbor area.) Fortunately our REALLY GOOD FRIEND Kim was kind enough to loan Abby back to us to replace Gilford as our driving horse to take up to Maine with our mare.
On Saturday September 9, which should have been Gilford’s inspection day, Emmie discovered that an abcess had broken through his left outside heel at the bulb just above the coronet band. She described a bit of oozing of some pus and a cottage cheesy-looking substance (yuk.) The horse was much less lame immediately because the pressure of the abscess was relieved, and he recovered quickly with help from Emmie’s daily hot water/Epsom salt soaks and compresses.
Gilford was put back into light daily exercise in the roundpen; within 4 days of the abscess draining (ie. resolving itself), he was rideable and no longer favoring. We still don’t know what caused this abscess, but the symptoms of it were gone within 1 1/2 weeks after the slight limp at the trot was first observed. Dad and I kept tabs on his progress and gave Em moral support from Maine.
Home again and trotting just fine!
We were majorly disappointed at not getting to enjoy driving Gilford on the carriage roads, after training him to the Meadowbrook cart and him doing so well all summer. (It would have been Gilford’s third visit to the carriage roads in Acadia, see Baby colt in Acadia National Park Maine of 07/28/06.) Plus Emmie had put in hours of schooling and in-hand work to prep him for the A.W.S. inspection.
Mare above the ground– Gilford’s Arabian mom is excited to see him again after 5 weeks!
Nothing much goes the way you plan sometimes. : ( Em did a great job with him and really enjoyed his 3-yr.-old willingness to try everything she asked of him. Under saddle he learned how to balance and carry himself better, maintain a steady pace, relax his neck down, stretch out his frame and move forward with impulsion for her, which translated also into the roundpen at liberty. He has a light and springy trot like his Arabian dam, and a quick and willing mind. Can’t ask much more than that!
Apparently a hoof abscess can be difficult to diagnose. An internal pocket of infection, they can be associated with invasive injuries, especially puncture wounds, or bruises such as sole bruises or some other hoof trauma. Large muscle bruises may also abscess without the skin being broken. Occurrence of swelling and/or heat may indicate an abscess; if diagnosed, the vet would typically prescribe an antibiotic treatment against the infection.
Often they will heal themselves by punching through to the surface sooner or later, even coming out through the horse’s sole, but veterinary intervention may be necessary to lance or pierce the abscess to allow it to drain. We kept 2-3 horses for 14 years and had only one abscess issue, from a kick to an upper rear thigh which resulted in a pocket of fluid the size of a grapefruit. (Actually I think the vet called this one something similar to hematoma rather than an abscess, it was NOT blood-filled.) Recently we’ve experienced 3 in the past 2 years with 2 different horses, one of those being a puncture to the chest which had debris from a limb stuck inside the wound; that one had to exude its way out over a couple of months of hot compressing– whew!)
Connie Moses, petArtist– self-built website: PortraitsWithHorses.com
(horse and pet portraits)