What in Tarnation ??

OK ... I see this topic with photos frequently in various forums and discussions. 

Curious minds want to know ... 

What in tarnation IS this? What are those cracks in the heels? What is going on!? 

It would almost appear as if the hoof capsule is separating from the foot!   Or, the horse stepped on something that sliced the back of his frog. Or, maybe the frog is shedding. Or, maybe its a bad case of Thrush ... or, or, or. 

What it is .... 

Is evidence of a major venting of an abscess.  

Or, actually, it *could* also be a bad injury or a bad case of Thrush or Yeast ... but, most likely, it's a vented abscess. 

Regardless -- the directions for treatment are pretty much the same for each of the possible situations. 

Somewhere along the line the horse probably was 'footy' or, even downright lame. Then, seemingly overnight, he was sound again. 

On the other hand, I've seen this on one of my own horses and never saw any footiness or lameness. 

So ... it depends, I guess, on the individual horse and hoof. 

As always.

So now that the mystery is solved, what to do about it?

That answer is quite simple, really.

Barring any deeper issues or secondary infections it is necessary to simply keep the hoof balanced well, keep the horse moving, feed good nutritious food and let the hoof sort itself out; as long as the environment is dry. 

However, if the horse is in mud or water a lot of the time then some extra precautions need to be taken. The vent needs to be protected from outside elements and toxins so a few extra measure need to be take to properly care for this hoof. 

I like to use essential oils and homeopathy as well as a few other alternative treatments with my horses and my clients.

Essential oils that can help to keep the secondary concerns at bay or to eliminate any secondary concerns present are:  Oregano, Protective Blend, Melaleuca and maybe some Rosemary or Thyme essential oils (please, please, please be sure the oils used are of therapeutic grade and 100% pure! Ask me if you don't know where to get these.) mixed in liquid coconut oil or even water - flushing and spraying the vents several times a day is how I treat these kinds of conditions. (I use Calendula Infused oil if I can be assured to flush the oils thoroughly into the foot. But Calendula causes RAPID new tissue growth and the last thing we want is to have the outside of the vent heal over before everything is healed on the inside!)

If the environment is excessively wet or muddy then I'll also soak the hoof in some activated charcoal water to help draw out the infection, adding a couple of drops each of the oils to the soaking water to help knock out secondary condition, then flush and spray thoroughly with the oil mixture after the soak. ...I'll then bandage in a baby diaper, vetwrap and duct tape. If I do bandage then I will soak and flush just twice a day for 3 days or so then once a day for another few days until I see good healing with NO exudate and fresh, pink new skin taking hold. 

Also, a poultice for the hoof can be made using equal parts of activated charcoal and water with 2 drops each of Oregano, Melalueca and OnGuard essential oils then wrapping with diaper or cotton batting, vetwrap and duct tape. The following shows how to wrap (I'm not advocating using Ichthammol at this point in healing a vented abscess as depicted in the video ... use the charcoal and oils)

A good instructional of how to wrap a poultice on a horse's hoof. I don't have the 'sock' of which he speaks so if you don't have that you can eliminate that step. 

Another good video is here: 

Only use a wet poultice for two to three days at a time, then switch to a dry poultice or dressing to keep the area clean. 

The hoof will continue to grow anew and at some point you'll realize that you don't see those cracks anymore.  That means all is well ... its all healed. Trimming the hoof may take some extra attention during the healing time as well as immediately after the vent has grown out. But a good, balanced trim is essential in helping the hoof to heal and helping to prevent future events of abscessing.

If I see there is ACTIVE abscessing still going on in the foot (this means visible pus and/or blood) then I will add a homeopathic remedy called "Silicea" to the mix of treatments or another constitutional remedy. Again, depending on the individual horse and the individual hoof I may treat several times with a lower potency throughout the day or I may only treat once or twice the first day with a higher potency. That is for the homeopath to determine as he or she has the experience and knowledge to determine what is going to be best for the horse. 

That is what *I* do.  But if you are not comfortable using alternative methods of healing then there are some standard treatments one can do to help remediate this issue. 

The goal in treating an abscess is to draw out the infection and keep the area clean to prevent reinfection while the hoof heals.  Once you have confirmed the diagnosis with your vet, follow the steps below to put your horse on the road to recovery. 

The products you'll need to help treat your horse's hoof abscess

You will need a flexible bucket or tub, Epsom salts and poultice pads or iodine. Bandaging materials include sheet cotton or a diaper, elastic bandage and duct tape.

Treating a Hoof Abscess Step 1
Step 1:  Mix Epsom salts in a bucket of warm water.  Use enough salts to reach the point of saturation, where no more will dissolve.


Treating a Hoof Abscess Step 2

Step 2:  Submerge the entire hoof up to the coronary band and soak for 10 minutes.  This will help draw out the infection and will encourage the abscess to erupt if it has not already been opened and drained.


Treating a Hoof Abscess Step 3

Step 3:  Soak a poultice pad in hot water.


Treating a Hoof Abscess Step 4

Place the pad over the sole of the hoof.


Alternate Treatment of a Hoof Abscess Step 1

If you do not have any poultice pads, you can make a poultice with Epsom salts and iodine.   


Alternate Treatment of a Hoof Abscess Step 2

Pack the paste into the hoof so it covers the entire sole.


Treating a Hoof Abscess Step 4

Step 4:  Wrap the hoof in a diaper or sheet cotton.  Secure the diaper by tightly wrapping it with elastic bandage. Cover the entire bandage with duct tape for durability. If your horse will be turned out or is prone to destroying bandages, you may want to use a hoof boot.

 INSTRUCTIONS FROM http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-exclusives/treating-hoof-abscess.aspx


So, there you have it. 

I hope you never have to use these instructions. And, as always, any questions can be directed to me, gwen.santagate@gmail.com 

Till next week - Happy trails! 


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (23)-573-9687. For further information please click here:  www.thepenzancehorse.com/2012/RESUME.pdf 

LIVE, ONLINE COURSE with Gwenyth Santagate begins Sept. 13, 2017. For more information and to register (limited reserved spots) go here:  http://www.integrativehorsecourses.com/online-classes.html


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