Monday, September 12, 2011

Sore Hoof and Hind Hooves

Lilly has been wearing her boots since Cat came out on Thursday. I had to change out her Happy Hoof Pads on Saturday, but she's been doing really well in the boots. The problem is, she's still pretty sore on that right front when the boots are off. I'm hoping that means the issue is somewhere in the hoof and not in her leg (also known as tendon/ligament issues), or up in her shoulder or back.

I realize this whole process takes time, but I just hate to see her sore if there's something I can do to help her. She's so much better on the left front that I'm worried there's something else going on with her right foot. She showed a little bit of discomfort there before we even took the shoes off, so I don't think it's entirely because she's barefoot.

I'm torn about what I should do, though. If it is in her hoof, it could be something as "simple" as an abscess, or it could be that she has a thin sole. Maybe she just has heel pain because she's not wearing shoes and for other obvious reasons. The boots and the Happy Hoof Pads should help with the sole and the heel pain, but I'm not sure she can wear the boots 24/7. So far, no rub marks on her feet but I worry about them getting damp and leading to other issues.

We think she might have another abscess brewing, but I checked her digital pulse today and everything seemed normal. I actually felt a stronger pulse on her hind feet...

I'm treating her as though she does have thrush. That could be part of the soreness if she does have any and since it can't hurt, I've been squirting apple cider vinegar in there. She's got a pretty deep central sulcus crack in each foot still, and even though I don't really see anything in there, we're taking precautions. I'm looking at a couple other options too, but for now it's the ACV.

I've been keeping her boots as clean as humanly possible, and I pour a bunch of Gold Bond powder in the boots before I put them on to help with any moisture that might get in there.

I may end up getting a lameness exam done on her, and depending on what the vet says, we could end up with x-rays or some nerve blocking to try and figure out where the pain is coming from. If it's just heel pain, I prefer not to go overboard with the vet visit, but the x-rays would be nice to see just to make sure there aren't any signs of navicular. We would also be able to see how thick/thin her soles are.

So I continue to ponder...

When I had her in the barn today, I decided to take some pictures of her hind feet. I think they look really good, but I'm curious if there are any other comments about her feet. :)

Left hind...

Left hind...

Right hind...

Right hind...
I wanted to show this next picture simply because I find it really interesting! I need to shave her legs a bit so the hairline is more visible, but it has really started to even out since the shoes came off. It doesn't plunge to the ground like it did before. Also, the angle of the new hoof growth coming in has me intrigued also. There is a very clear bump where the new growth meets the old hoof. I find myself staring at this picture a lot. I just can't help myself...

Medial side of left front
The towel gets in the way a bit, but I get tired of crawling around on the wet, dirty floor, so I put some towels down today. It's much easier on my old knees. :)

Finally, I tried to get a video of Lilly walking around her pasture in her boots. The boys were occupying the round pen area, so I tried to do this in the pasture instead, and I failed miserably. She wants me to scratch her, not record her!


  1. The new hoof capsule takes a long time to grow in - 6 to 9 months - and her hooves probably won't be competent on a variety of surfaces without boots until then - it takes time.

  2. You're definitely right, Kate. I just hate to see her sore if there's something I can do to help her. She's so much better on the left front that I'm worried there's something else going on with her right foot. She showed a little bit of discomfort there before we even took the shoes off, so I don't think it's entirely because she's barefoot.

  3. She could have been showing DDFT pain with the right front even with the shoes on, due to a long toe and underrun heels. These things take time to work themselves out - they don't magically go away overnight. She's starting to grow a strong new hoof capsule at an angle that's right for her, so give her time to do it. Plus with the deep cracks and that weird hole-looking thing, it's no wonder her front feet are sore! I totally went through this with Saga, and he is STILL only 100% comfortable on hard surfaces in boots. BUT, with the boots he's 100% stomping around, couldn't care less about rocks and whatever else, so I know I just need to give his feet more time to adjust. Oh, and monitor the sugar in his diet. Stressed grass is higher in sugar than non-stressed grass is, so maybe being out on stressed pasture is causing her to get more sugar than her feet are happy with? It's a total trigger for Saga, maybe it is with Lilly too?

    If she can't wear boots all the time, can you get some glue-on boots? I'm about to try those this week for foxhunting - I'll let you know how it goes.

    As for her hinds, MAN those are some BEEFY frogs! They really look amazing! Someday her front feet will look like that too, I have no doubt!

  4. I hope she feels more comfortable soon.

  5. That's another good point, Jen. It definitely could have been something other than her foot that we were starting to see before we took the shoes off. I'm really trying to be patient and let things run their course, but I feel like I should be doing something about the soreness. She seems to be really happy, though, so I'm glad for that.

    The grass thing is also something I've been thinking about. Her pasture is definitely stressed, and while she hasn't ever really had an issue with grass in the past, I think her feet will be more of a window into what's going on now that those shoes are off.

    Rebecca does glue on shoes, and they're definitely something I'm thinking about for next year during the show season. I'm really look forward to hearing how you like them!

  6. Thank you, Terry! Lilly thanks you too! :)

  7. She's only been out of shoes for a month you know, patience dear, patience ;)

    The feeling I have about her right fore is controversial to some, but to me it looks like her bars have migrated and impacted which would cause a lot of painful pressure inside the hoof (her sole is lumpy and it looks like there's sole pigment under a white veil), add to that the heel crushing and it's no wonder that she's in rough shape right now.

    When you run a finger over her sole, is it rough and pebbly or hard and slick? Can you scratch it with a hoofpick? Ask the trimmer to take small slices off of a few places (like potato peels) and see if you can tear them. If they tear easily it's sole, if it feels like plastic then it's bar. Tell her you're doing an experiment if that helps.

  8. I'm trying to be patient, I really am! LOL I'm just worried about her, so if there's something I can do to help her I want to make it happen.

    So, I'm looking at a picture of the bottom of her hoof, and you're saying the bars have grown over the sole of the hoof? Like in the bumpy spots near the frog, or over more of the hoof than that? After Rebecca pulled the shoes, she used her hoof knife to go over the sole and smooth out the bumpy spots, but Cat never touched the sole. So she definitely has some bumpy spots again, but I'll have to get back to you on the texture because I'm not sure about that.

    Thank you for your opinion! :)

  9. Rebecca, I meant glue-on boots, not glue-on shoes. They're very different critters - the boots aren't glued to the sole and still allow the hoof to function normally, whereas my understanding with a glue-on shoe is that it's just like a steel shoe (in terms of how it allows the hoof to function) but with glue instead of nails. Check out the Easycare blog and you'll see some of the boots in action.

    Smazourek, I'm curious to know what you mean by impacted bars? To me the bars on both fronts look long (high?) and like they might be folded over

  10. Yes, they are long and folded over- what I think has happened is that they've been that way for so long that they've actually pushed up into the foot. Ove Lind has a photo on facebook that shows this:

    Bars that have pressed up into the foot will also push up the lateral cartilages, look back at her last photos of Lilly's fores and see if you think the lateral cartilages look different on the right than the left- to me they look like they've been pushed up and together on the right fore.

    Of course this is just an armchair diagnosis and those are good for very little, still I think it would be worth it for one of those trimmers to really define those bars, find their white lines and their termination point at the center of the frog and make sure those aren't causing the issue before a vet comes out and diagnoses her with navicular. (BTW, when a vet says navicular they usually mean the horse has heel pain and they don't know why)

    And one more point- if the bars get trimmed and they immediately pop back up it's a good sign that they have impacted. They pop out because the hoof is trying to push them back out where they belong.

  11. Can I just say, Lilly has one of the cutest faces EVER! Seriously, even with that flymask on, her expression is just so adorable! :)

    I don't know much about feet, but I think her hind feet look good! Interesting comments above about the bars growing into the feet. I would LOVE to know the result of the experiment, if you do it!


  12. Jen, I don't know why I thought you said glue-on shoes! Mental exhaustion, perhaps... they definitely look like something Lilly could benefit from if she's still a bit tender over hard surfaces. I think I've seen people show in them as well, so perhaps I could use them next year showing.

    Smaz, I am still learning all I can about this so my opinion doesn't mean a whole lot, but I see what you're saying about the lateral cartileges. On the right foot, they appear to be mushed inward, where on the left foot, they look more normal. That facebook picture is crazy too... I wish I could see inside Lilly's feet! I emailed my trimmer to get her take on it and I'll definitely let you know.

    Jill, thank you! :) She was like, "hey lady... hey, you with the nails for scratching my belly!" She's so funny about wanting her belly scratched and is very clear in her communication that she's itchy. LOL

  13. Well, you guys are just getting way over my head on the feet thing. LOL...So I'm just going to leave that alone.

    If you think that Lilly is sore in her shoulder, have you tried pressure testing her yourself to see if she has any tender spots? You can just take the none writing end of a pen and run it from her poll down her neck, over her shoulders, along her spine and over her hips. You should see any 'hot' spots pretty easily (unless she is ticklish). I use DMSO on my horses and have really good luck with it helping to loosen up and release tight muscles. The heat is very deep penetrating. I try to apply it in the evening and then turn my horses out for the night because they do like to get down and roll a lot after being treated. I don't think it stings, but the heat can be a bit intense for about 30 minutes (I've used it on myself). If Lilly is in at night, you might want to apply it in the morning before turning her out for the day.

    If you think the straight DMSO might be a bit much for Lilly's pink skin, you can use the gel. I have used that as well and it doesn't seem to heat up as much.

  14. BEC, she doesn't really exhibit any signs of back or shoulder soreness other than the weird stuff I see when I ride her saddled. I haven't used DMSO in a really long time and it might be a bit much for her skin, but I've heard good things about the gel. Definitely something to keep in mind. :)