Monday, February 19, 2018

he blew it, finally

I know a lot of bloggers try to avoid writing about endless wound or injury care. It gets boring, repetitive, and kinda.... idk, old? Which, ya know, I get. An abscess is an abscess is an abscess, right?

oh hey, btw, in between 40-60* days we got a couple inches of snow. go figure. and i swear, charlie is not as sad as he looks - this was one of his most comfortable days all week, as evidenced by him chillin quietly enough for me to step away and snap a pic. also i *swear* i stood him up inside the barn. he insisted on standing with his head outside tho.
But continuing along with my introspective theme from last week, on what reading blogs has meant for me -- and how much I've learned from all this -- I'm gonna go ahead and post all the details at hand on Charlie's post-nail-puncture abscess care.

dat's a big leg tho. started filling the pan extra high bc Mr Oh So Sore couldn't stand flat on it for a couple days
Mostly for my own documentation. And bc I don't really have shit else going on anyway (only sorta a lie, stay tuned). But also bc so much of what I know about abscess care is not from first hand experience. Rather, it's from observing friends and barn mates, or reading about it on blogs.

the addition of his hay bag to our kit was very much appreciated by Sir
So I'm sharing my own experiences here, to maybe either pay it forward. Or at least expel some words off my chest bc this gal's gotta write something and if it's gotta be about abscesses and soaking my horse's hoof infinitely and forever, so be it, right?

definitely helped pass the time! and apparently was better than takis lol
Anyway. Let's rehash the timeline, shall we? Wednesday a week and a half ago, Charlie stepped on a nail during a lesson. The puncture went straight up into his hoof about an inch, but somehow by the grace of gods missed all the critical structures within the hoof. And the horse seemed.... miraculously unscathed.

yea there's that snow i told you about 
We braced ourselves for the prospect of an abscess tho, and he did ultimately present with some signs of abscessing on Monday night: a very hot hoof and some very slight swelling around the pastern. Also a little lame, tho not classically "three legged" abscess lame.

Farrier pulled his shoe that Tuesday, and the horse ended up on stall rest through Friday morning bc of a very unfortunate miscommunication with barn staff. I had no idea he wasn't getting turn out - and only realized the error when he was suspiciously clean after being unblanketed on a 60* day and I had come to the barn prepared to chisel him out of a crust of mud.

the snow was esp pretty considering the ground was too warm to allow it to stick
Thursday also coincided with Charlie starting to really feel crippled tho. I had been soaking him in epsom salts and wrapping the hoof every day since Monday, but Thursday was legit his first really bad day.

Friday only got worse, and he managed to take off his other hind shoe in turnout. Go figure, after I gave the staff a hard time for not turning him out, he went ahead and wrecked his'self in turnout that very next day....

and natch about 24hrs later, same exact scene but 15* warmer and sunny. looks.... kinda similar? but feels worlds different
So he had one hind sore from the abscess, one sore from losing a shoe but also needing to constantly compensate for the other. Plus his diagonal fore was showing some signs of fatigue. And I legit began to wonder if the horse would goddamn founder on me. Bc Charlie.

I talked with the vet about my paranoia about missing some important warning sign from the nail puncture, and we set a date for "if he's not better by this point, we x-ray."

and, on this particular sunny nice day, charlie was feeling even better. yessss!
I also asked staff to keep Charlie in a small paddock after he lost the other hind shoe to avoid crippling him further on the gravel driveway (vet's rec, I personally am not convinced the road is any worse for him than constantly resting on the unshod hoof....).

His first day in the paddock -- Saturday -- he basically stayed under the run in roof quietly eating hay. Second day -- Sunday -- the barn worker called me soon after turning him out to say he was trotting around whinnying pitifully for his friends. Hallelujah. Horse wants to trot?? Yasssss. Toss that sucker back out with his buddies!!!

photographing a blown abscess is tricky when holding a wet, sore hoof in one hand and a cell phone in the other
I had hoped it was a positive sign he was feeling much better. Lo and behold, when I arrived for our daily bubble bath date that evening --- the abscess had in fact blown!!! Yay!!!!!!!

so i annotated with relevant landmarks. blue line is bottom of hoof. (charlie's shoe is pulled, and he's not generally a barefoot horse, explaining why this has a maybe odd profile). orange line is a very rough estimate of the nai's entry point. red line is where the abscess blew out.
 I mean, he's still lame on it. And I'm still paranoid. But. Ya know. Progress, right?

Anyway. I've been wrapping this hoof a few different ways prior to the abscess blowing. Mostly: a small pack of poultice sprinkled with epsom salts on a gauze pad pushed up into the groove where the nail went. Then vet wrap. Then duct tape.

I included a diaper once or twice, but it proved not effective in muddy turnout situations and lasted the worst, plus possibly irritated his cornet band, pastern, and fetlock the worst after filling up with absorbed mud and water.

Once I forgot vet wrap entirely and just did the gauze pad and duct tape. I was paranoid this would be a bear to get off his hoof the next day... but wet ground conditions basically rendered this nbd. And once I ran out of vet wrap and used elastikon instead. This was maybe the hardest to get off his hoof, but also lasted the best, tho it filled up with mud instead of blowing out.

same hoof, post-soak and post-betadine-flush
Each variation of wrap ended up blowing through the toe. Even when I used patches of feed bags at the toe, which had been recommended to improve longevity of a hoof wrap. Honestly I just think nothing could quite stand up to Charlie's constant resting of the hoof. Tho the wraps lasted longer and were less likely to end up around his fetlock on days he got turnout vs days he spent on his matted stalls.

The best system seemed to be packing the problem area with poultice, since that provided a sticky barrier to any mud that got in the wrap. Also, by the last few days it became apparent that the abscess would blow through Charlie's heel bulb (the telltale sign was his hypersensitivity to any sensation there), so I began slathering the heel with ichthammol too -- which helped prevent anything else from sticking too much to the hoof.

can't recommend this style of syringe strongly enough. they're fantastic -- with a very small diameter, curved tip that fits into basically any space.
Once it finally blew, I decided not to wrap it again bc the wraps just seemed to capture more mud, esp in the area of his heel bulbs. Vet agreed with this too.

So I just soaked again in epsom salts, plus a generous squirt of betadine this time too. Then after soaking, used a curved-tip irrigation syringe to flush inside the abscess pocket with betadine solution. The abscess opening was about a half inch slit, with maybe a nickel-quarter sized squishy pocket underneath.

Flushing it felt kinda gross tbh, but after having to flush his splint abscess wound it really wasn't that bad. This syringe was great tho. Really really good for this job. And I'm oddly relieved to have a fresh supply of them in my first aid kit bc it seems like a versatile tool, esp for a Charlie Horse.

so ya know. he's probably going to live.
So now the hope is that we're on the other side of this thing. It's hard bc it's mud season and keeping the hoof clean is impossible. But I'll do my best. And hopefully the farrier will deem him good to shoe tomorrow too. He needs done on all four anyway, but I'm hoping the farrier sees no reason not to shoe that RH.

We'll see. I'm feeling optimistic. And after watching my best riding buddies fucking kill it this weekend at another Loch Moy cross derby, I am so so so eager to get back at it. C'mon Charlie buddy. I need you, man. Need you to move on from this!!!

Wish us luck!! And in the meantime, I'm curious: Since I've been at this for seemingly ages now, I'm finally feeling like I'm refining my first aid kit for abscesses. The only thing I didn't get to use from my kit are the animalintex pads, but that's only bc his didn't blow out the bottom of his hoof. Otherwise tho I'm kinda pumped by all these great new tools I'm using -- like those syringes.

What are some of your favorite things to have on hand for abscesses? Do you have a favorite type duct tape? I'm using gorilla tape. Do you like vet wrap? Or elastikon? Or diapers? Does it depend on whether your horse is getting turn out or not? And, for that matter, how do you decide on that? Are you like me, wanting the horse out as much as possible? Or does it depend on how crippled they are???? I'm curious!

40 comments:

  1. Hope you don’t get this twice - having iPad problems.

    I put a hoof boot over the wrap for turnout. Current favorite is Cavello simple boot. It keeps my guy from wearing out the duct tape. May not be a good idea for abscesses that come out higher up (may rub) but mine have all been on the sole.

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    1. yea honestly hoof boots have come to mind a few times throughout this process. i'm seriously paranoid about rubs if the boot doesn't fit *exactly* bc charlie is a delicate flower like that.... but at the same time, even for the hoof that just lost a shoe but isn't otherwise in trouble, a well-fitting boot could help him not be so sore....

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    2. Like you said, boot fit is crucial. We have a Dover close by, so I bought every variety in a range of sizes & returned all but the best fit. Clerk said that’s the way to do it & had no problem with it.

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    3. now that's a thought! and we have a local dover too with reps who are likewise all about taking advantage of dover's generous return policy for stuff like this. hmmmm.....

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  2. I always soak then pack with Epsom salt poultice which I then cover with a diaper, vetwrap, gorilla tape (note it's not as sticky if living in really cold temps, like below 20F, but amazing otherwise), then put a Hoof wrap (that's a product name) on top. The hoof wrap has a learning curve to application but once you figure it out it stays on quite well although it lasts best if your horse isn't walking on gravel to go outside.
    I like to turnout if I can but sometimes they are too crippled or the ground is frozen and rutted so not conducive to a horse who needs shoes on (or both with P recently).
    Let's hope this is it and Charlie is on the road to recovery now!

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    1. omg i just adore this gorilla tape. i had picked up some off brand discount roll of duct tape at a cvs and it just... wow it sucked so bad. definitely worth the extra pocket change to get the good stuff!

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  3. All my horses have always popped abscesses overnight so I usually just leave them in the day they present, maybe the first day they pop if it's a particularly nasty blow out, and then chuck them back out unwrapped. A long brewing abscess is seriously one of my worst nightmares because they seem like such a colossal pain in the ass!

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    1. yea that would be so cool if charlie could condense this whole endeavor into a single overnight extravaganza. but nope, he's basically like an italian opera: gotta drag out the drama for as looonnnngggg as possible.

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  4. Those curved syringes really are the BEST! Glad Charlie is on the road to recovery. Again. Sigh :(

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    1. omg i love the syringes. LOVE. it's weird, honestly. but yea. yet again, charlie seems to hopefully be getting back on track. whether or not we can *stay* on track has yet to be determined!!

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  5. Unfortunately, I am the queen of dealing with abscesses. I can't remember if I was blogging back when Batty was dealing was multiple absesses weekly? UGH. So frustrating. There was a time that BOTH Batty AND Hayley were as well... Different times, but those 2 are/were (now I'm sad) my abscess prone kids.

    White Lightning soaks -- I was skeptical, but after someone talking me into it and I was just about ready to give up, I tried it. NOTHING has helped better. They have been the only thing to 1000% improve Batty's feet. You do have to wrap/tape in a bag for 45 minutes but you can reuse the solution if you want to do multiple feet one day and the white lightning/vinegar combo just does something. I cannot explain it, but... With all this mud/ice/mud craziness, I have a better horse now even though he's standing in muck. And have haven't soaked since August. That says something...

    The strongest iodine you can find. After all rides, I squirt iodine on feet at my farrier's advice just to kill anything that might be brewing. Also, whenever we get an abscess, more iodine.

    I do the diaper/duct tape or gorilla tape/vet wrap with either poultice and epsom salt or ichthammol. But, if it is super muddy (story of my life right now), no wrap. I always turn out with abscesses as movement can't hurt. In the end, most of the time it can be 1 week of stall rest or 7 days of turn out to blow.

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    1. I found feeding whole flax really helped cut down on abscesses and improved Batty's feed way more than any other hoof supplement. I also found that flax in general may lead to impaction colic. Of course, so can NOT DRINKING STUPID HORSE. But, I cut out the flax just in case it wasn't helping... Chronic impaction colic sucks.

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    2. yea i'm definitely grateful that i don't have to deal with the abscess prone issues!! and chronic impaction colic issues too... ugh. i mean, charlie has his own nasty little tendencies too, in true 'king of the dings' style. and naturally i'll forgive him this abscess since it was caused by a freak accident with a nail, vs a predisposition in his hooves....

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  6. Irish has had so many abscesses over the years. I’ve tried lots of things but never found it made a difference. What I do now is turn him out to walk around as he chooses. When it blows I clean with antiseptic. I have had some luck with using a hoof boot with an epsom poultice bit it will get mud inside if it’s muddy out. I know I’m not the norm and some people think I’m awful but that is my experience

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    1. yea honestly my own inclinations are basically in line with yours, and i was.... a bit more than slightly unhappy to learn the horse had been kept in on stall rest without my knowledge. it was an honest miscommunication but still... c'mon ppl. and i'm honestly not convinced that all my soaking and wrapping made much of a difference, but given the nature of this particular abscess's cause (the nail puncture) i wanted to be a little more proactive with it in case something bad was happening.

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  7. No new advice here, but I'm so remembering this post the next abscess I come across. Fingers crossed you guys can get back out there soon!

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    1. no advice needed, just curious about how everyone else does their stuff! but yea seriously hoping this will be it for like.... a while. ugh charlie.

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  8. Glad it finally blew out and hopefully he's firmly on the mend! I've been lucky (knock on wood) so far, with all my horses over the course of 10+ years of horse ownership, I've only had one abscess. But my mom's horse is super prone to him and I know she goes the diaper duct tape boot route a lot.

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    1. ugh yea i seriously never had to deal with any of this shit with isabel haha. why oh why did i have to get a high maintenance ottb???? sigh. and i think the diaper and duct tape combo can work well, but in this current world filled with mud it was definitely the wrong choice for charlie. the thing must have weighed like 10 pounds by the time i finally cut if off his leg....

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  9. I’m glad it finally blew out and he is feeling better.

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    1. thanks me too! hopefully he's sound soon... or like, eventually, i guess...

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  10. Those irrigation syringes sure do come in handy!

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  11. Woohoo for a blown abscess, I hope he starts feeling much better soon. You guys will be out killing it in no time :)

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    1. thanks i certainly hope so! he's still really ouchy... but it's hard to tell anything when he's taken all his shoes off anyway!

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  12. I like that you share everything. And so descriptive.

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    1. ha i try i try! it's so useful for me since i refer back to old posts often. no need to learn the same lessons twice unnecessarily!

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  13. Hopefully this is the upswing for you guys! I feel like I should bookmark this for whenever Future Pony comes along haha. The four years I had my quarter pony as a kid I thankfully never had to deal with abscesses, buttt she did founder when I was 12. No idea how what we did compares to current practice, but she survived and was sound for riding the rest of the time I had her.

    Also - I appreciate you using your horse's name as a pun lol.

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    1. lol puns 4 lyfe!! and yea my last mare - a little arab - *never* had any of this nonsense of being constantly hurt or sore or whatever. whereas charlie is just one thing after another... it's getting old!

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  14. Yikes I do not envy you the process. Glad he's doing better.

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    1. yea i mean, i would much rather spend my time with him by doing like... more exciting stuff haha. but i still enjoy spending time with him at least, and he's easy to fuss over which certainly helps!

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  15. Cupid is prone to abscesses unfortunately, though luckily usually recovers quick and usually doesn't even go fully lame. I usually do an epsom soak, slather in ichthammol, then cover with an ABD pad on the sole (or animalintex), then gauze wrap, then vetwrap, then duct tape.

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    1. ugh abscesses are the worst. charlie's only had one that he told me before, and i've come to believe that was just a bruise. tho he went ahead and blew another massive one later on without ever saying a peep about it. go figure.

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  16. i love gorilla tape. a lot.

    also i think ima get you magna paste for your birthday :P

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    1. lol and hopefully i'll never have to use it!!! ;)

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  17. I have to commend your photos of blown abscess 'cause it is a really hard thing to do and you did it really well. I see it! haha

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    1. i really REALLY wanted to get a shot of actually flushing the thing with the syringe.... but alas i still only have two hands and haven't figured out how to operate my camera with my teeth.... lol

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  18. Hooray! Finally! You must be so relieved!

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  19. Yay, so happy something potentially so serious resolved with only a little inconvenience! Re: abscesses, I usually soak and disinfect, and put a boot on or vet wrap. They're free to walk around as much as they like. Since B is super stoic, the last time she abscessed I didn't even notice...the farrier found the evidence later. #terribleowner

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  20. I have ichthammmol, epsom salt, sugar (used instead of salt), and duct tape as well. I have diapers for some use, but only when stalled otherwise they are more hindrance than help. Congrats for the popping Charlie!

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