Friday, August 29, 2014

Healing Misty - no hoof no horse?

Misty's back feet, while not laminitic, have problems too.  Her heels are quite underrun and her foot was overall very overgrown. 

While trimming them, I found evidence of old bruising in the heels.  She seems comfortable on them though.  I will continue to keep her heels rasped back to the frog and shorten the toe in an effort to change her angles and encourage the heel to grow more down rather than forward.

After being comfortable for a few days on her fronts after her big trim, Misty became uncomfortable again.  I was decreaing her bute dose, so wondered if it had anything to do with that, but bumping the dose back up, did not make any difference.  At the same time, I began to notice a bump over both coronary bands above the toe.  She was landing exaggeratingly heel first while slowly walking.  I suspected bilateral abscesses.  She was so sensitive over the coronary band that she would not let me soak her feet, so I just let her go.

It took a week, but she finally burst abscesses out of both coronary bands.  They were nasty.  The right front foot was much worse than the left - abscess was much bigger and pussy.

I expected her to be more comfortable after the abscesses finally burst, and she wasn't really getting there, so I decided perhaps I needed to work on getting her toe more parallel with the coffin bone inside.  It was also time to lower her heels again.  They were growing pretty fast.  It had only been about 2 weeks since I did her first major trim.

I lowered her heels, then started working on her toe and found a nasty black pocket in her hoof wall at the quarter.  I expected that this all communicated with the coronary band  at the toe.

I looked more closely at the bottom of her foot and found a flat that was soft and has some black oozy stuff under it.  I grabbed the flap with the hoof knife and ended up peeling away the whole sole on that outside hoof, exposing very soft grayish material - the material put out but lamina trying to cover themselves and produce new sole.  I was millimeters from the coffin bone.  At the time, my first thought was I was going to have to just euthanize her.

Thankfully, a little bit of hoof wall was still attached (though loosely) which kept her weight off that super soft material which was also quite sensitive.  After I watched her walk around on that foot, I realized she was no more tender than before, so I decided to see what would happen.  Afterall, if I quit now, neither of us would be benefiting.  Dealing with hoof abscesses sure is discouraging though.  Misty's hoof abscesses are huge.

I retook radiographs and the extensive nature of the abscesses could be seen. 

After exposing that soft tissue, I soaked her feet in iodine water for an hour. 

I had to do nerve blocks to make her feet less sensitive in order for her to leave her feet in the soaking water.  Then I booted her in softride boots with iodine soaked guaze covering the areas where her absesses were draining and over that soft sole. 

She drained for several days at the toe on the left foot (where I had opened up an abscess pocket that communicated inside when I trimmed) and at the coronary band on the right foot.  She does lay down a lot, but also is up and fairly mobile often.  And, she has gained a little bit of weight in the short time I've had her.  She is still bony, but is losing the sharpness.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Healing Misty - Jake's new best friend

Pictures of Misty in the round pen. She really loves Jake, the pony, since they live in neighboring pens, so I turn them out together. 

These pictures are from the time of the previous post, just a few days after her first big trim.  I was trying to get my video to load, but I can't figure out how to get it off my phone and onto blogger.  So you'll have to make due with pictures.

The following pictures just show how hard life has been for her in the past.  

She laid down a lot because her feet hurt and wore the hair off her elbows, her hindquarters, and developed a fluidy filled sac to cushion her sternum.  The ground was hard at her previous place.  She also has pin-firing scars on her right hind leg.  She raced very successfully all last year.

She also has a small hernia...nothing that will hurt her most likely, but could be passed on if she were to be bred...not that the racing folks probably consider a hernia when breeding a fast horse.

This is a picture of her racing last year.  She is number 4.  It's just a sad story all around.  This horse with great potential ended 2013 racing all washed up (probably injured or showing lameness if the pin firing is any clue), then was sold to a working family who was excited about their new fast cart horse, then she foundered after just a few times out on the road.  Sounds like there was just too much stress at the end of the year there for her, and it all may likely have lead to the severe founder event.  And then without appropriate management, she could not heal.  I'm glad she has had these good days at least and we'll see what her future holds.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Healing Misty - first trim

After Misty had been here for a few days on 2 grams of bute twice a day and housed 24/7 on deep sand, I did her first big trim. I had trimmed about 1.5 inches off her toe out front and lowered her heels a week before while she was still at her previous owners.  Now, based on having seen radiographs I took off as much as I dared off the front of her toes. The goal is to improve her break over and get rid of the deformed hoof capsule to prevent further deformation.

I took radiographs after her trim, and while much improved, there is still a lot of material in front of her coffin bone.  Her angles are hard to assess because she was variably weighting her feet during rads, and I wanted to take them quick and not make her stand on a block for very long.  The best news is that she actually has some sole depth!  We have something to build on!

I shot really quick rads of the solar margin of her coffin bone (totally rough because I did not take the time to clean the sand out or pack the grooves with playdoh (because of all the sand and how painful she was standing on one foot).  It is really hard to see, but the solar margin of the coffin bone at the tip is eaten away.  At one point she had some pretty significant pedal osteitis.  I don't think it is active right now though.  It has a sclerotic rim and seems well defined.  That bone will never come back.  There are also pockets at the quarters where the hoof wall is not connected to the underlying tissue.  These feet are a disaster.

The next day, I took her out for a walk and I could not believe how good she was moving!  She looked almost normal while walking through my round pen, striding out and looking comfortable.  While standing, she still shifts from one foot to another constantly, but the walking comfort is huge.  Before we got to this point, Misty wasn't really rocking back on her haunches, but reluctant to move and carefully setting a hoof down while quickly walking up with her hind feet to support herself.  So, this striding out and looking seriously almost normal is amazing!

While her improvement is wonderful, it is only the start. She still needs to grow a whole new hoof, if even possible. Previous growth rings show that she is growing very little at the toe, and quite a bit at the heel.  I will have to continue to keep the heel rasped down as new growth comes in.  And she will continue to be at risk for abscesses.  She has previous evidence of blowing an abscess out of a heel on each hoof, and out the top of the coronary band on one.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Healing Misty

Misty's story will be an interesting, and potentially heartbreaking one. I can't tell you much about her past, but I can say that she is a 4 year old Standardbred mare that foundered very badly back in January. She has not been managed appropriately since then and her feet may be irrepairable. But her stoic nature, and sweet eyes made me give her a second chance. I am her proud/scared/worried new owner. This story is just beginning again for Misty, and it may yet be even more heartbreaking than it has already. She may remain uncomfortable and painful, or even become worse, and if that happens, I am prepared to help her pass on peacefully. But in the meantime, we will be doing our best to get her comfortable, keep her feet trimmed correctly, and encourage new hoof growth. Cross your fingers...we need the luck.

Misty upon arriving at my house. She is wearing the styrofoam pads I had asked her previous owners to use instead of shoes, which had been nailed on the bottom of her misshapen hooves just to try to get her sole off the ground. However, the styrofoam was crushed flat and not doing any good. While still at her previous owners, I had removed some of her super long curled up toe and lowered her heels, but was afraid to do too much without radiographs, which we had not done at that time. Then applied the pads...but the pads have to be layered on and replaced every time they become crushed down.

The first changes I made now that Misty is at my house: 1) House her in deep sand (initially was about 6 inches deep of dry sand). 2) Keep the wraps off and give her rotten feet a chance to dry out. 3) Start her on antiinflammatory medications - phenylbutazone.  4) Offer all the free choice grass hay she can eat, 5) Start a complete mineral/vitamin supplement that will support healthy hoof growth. 

Her toe is growing very slowly compared to her heels, if at all, and the deformed hoof capsule is contributing to further deformation.

She has also blown at least 3 abscesses at some time in the recent past on her two front feet, and could potentially blow more. I'm hoping she just keeps the majority of her hoof capsule intact. I worry about this huge crack at her heel and I'm hoping it doesn't extend forward any further, or pinch new growing tissues.

She also has a very convex sole and the sole just in front of the frog is pushed out the most. This makes her very uncomfortable on hard surfaces.

These are the quick rads I shot through her wraps and pads while still at her previous owners (right before I took her home) because we were all curious what was going on inside there.

Obviously there is rotation and sinking of the coffin bone, with an excessively curved dorsal hoof wall, but not much else can be assumed because there is tape and a pad also in the view.

This journey with Misty is just beginning, but I will continue to post about our progress (or lack thereof).  It may be a year or two in the making (time to grow a new hoof), or it may be over in a few months.  It all depends on her comfort.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Adding a pony to the herd

Lots of things have been going on around here this summer, despite my lack of posts.  The first exciting thing is that we got a pony for my daughter!  His name is Jake, and he is 25 years old.  He has actually been in the family since he was 7 years old, but the last few years he was living with the neighbor's grandkids.  Now they've outgrown him and he has come back to us to be our pony!  It is kind of a sweet story.  Of course, my daughter loves brushing long hair, so they have a great relationship.  And the pony prefers kids to adults...probably because kids give him treats all the time and don't make him mind.  He's a great pony for my daughter to learn to sit a horse.  His only downside is that he absolutely cannot have grass.  He has foundered really badly multiple times in the past before anyone really understood how to manage him.  Now he is doing well, is a good weight (maybe even a little thin, though he still has fat pads from his previous metabolic syndrome life).  His feet are very tender on rocks and hard ground, but he is fine in sand and grass.  When we ride him through the woods (daughter on him, and I lead him...he is primarily a lead line pony), we put boots on his feet.  He has to be isolated from the herd, however, since he cannot be on pasture.  We brought him home in June and right now, he is living in our old mustang pens, but in a month or two he will move closer to our yard.


The other big news is that we are finally putting in a barn!  A real barn!  With stalls and all!  It will also serve as a garage for our trucks (my vet truck too, which doesn't fit in our house garage).  We just broke ground last weekend, as the builder couldn't start until August.  There will be 4 stalls, a heated room for water and a sink, a tack room, a garden tool room, and then room for 2 trucks.  The back side will have a 3 sided shelter area for the horses to hang during the day.  I don't anticipate stalling any horses, but it will be convenient for feeding minerals and such and also during foaling time next spring.

Also, Stormy has been with my neighbor for some refining training for the last couple weeks.  During this time, we have determined something which I've suspected for a while, but never had someone else around to help me out with...Stormy has some strange minor lameness that is not really apparent on the trail.  It is primarily apparent when circling her to the left.  I believe it is her left hind leg and I need to do some further work up to figure out where exactly.  I don't think it is something that is's always been there.  I would like to same maybe it is some sort of mechanical lameness (or perhaps lack of muscling), but I suspect she has some pain somewhere.  I feel like my horses are always the last ones to get looked at for lameness issues. 

My 3 year old took these pictures without me knowing...

Chico is also quite lame right is the same lameness in his left hind leg (not the one that got the big cut - that leg is just fine) that I noticed for the first time a few years ago.  It's getting worse.  At this point, if I ride him even just a short ways around the property, then let him stand for a few minutes tied, he stiffens up and can hardly put any weight at all on that left hind leg.  And all that after being absolutely fine during the ride.  The lameness only shows after he's been rested after a ride (or chased around the pasture trying to catch him to put his grazing muzzle back on).  And if I keep walking him, he will warm back up out of that lameness to where it might still be there, but not nearly as severe.  And I am starting to be able to see it when he trots in the pasture.  When he's at pasture, it is very minor and hard to see, but there.  I had him down to the vet school a year ago for it, but he wasn't lame enough at the time to isolate it to a region of his left hind leg.  I'm just not sure right now and I need extra hands to help to actually figure out where it is...which I dont' usually have when I'm working with my horses.

At least Stormy's lameness doesn't get worse with work, that we've seen yet.  And it is imperceptible on a straight line, so she does just fine on the trail.

And speaking of lame horses, I have a new big project that I've brought home, but that is a post for next time!