Today I have a guest post for you written by Rebecca. Rebecca works for Anything Equine Store, providing helpful advice and tips to beginner riders. Rescuing many horse in the past has given Rebecca a lot of experience and knowledge when dealing with equestrian health conditions.
A farrier is someone who specialises in the care of horses’ hooves including trimming the hooves and putting on horseshoes. It is important for horses’ hooves to be trimmed regularly so they are balanced and properly oriented to the ground. When horses are required to perform difficult tasks involving heavy workloads or have medical conditions concerning their hooves, horseshoes may be required to protect the hooves. In the UK a Farrier would have to be registered to work and have the appropriate training as working on any animals’ hooves without being registered could be considered abuse.
A major condition that may require the assistance of a farrier is a hoof abscess. A hoof abscess is a bacterial infection found within the sensitive tissues of the foot. Pus is produced due the horse’s body’s immune response to the bacteria. The pus accumulates within the layers of the hoof wall and since those structures are rigid and cannot expand, the pressure produced causes pain. If left untreated the abscess will follow the hoof wall and eventually break through the coronary band or the bulbs of the heel. The pain causes lameness and the horse will resist bearing weight on the affected limb.
An abscess can be caused by a sharp object penetrating the sole of the hoof, decreased blood flow to the corium, or by bacteria collecting in the fissures and cracks of the white line. The most common causes are bacterial infiltration and moisture into the hoof and through corium or lateral cartilage compression.
To treat an abscess, the horseshoe (if present) is removed and the hoof is thoroughly cleaned. Once the location and point of entry of the abscess is located, a hole is created in the sole of the hoof to allow the pus to drain. If the abscess is too deep, the abscess will be allowed to progress to the coronary band to drain. Whether a hole is made or not, an Epsom salt poultice should be applied to the affected hoof. The Epsom salt draws the abscess and aids in removing the bacteria from the hoof. After being treated with a poultice, the hoof is wrapped in a treatment boot to cushion and protect it from dirt.
To prevent the chances of a horse developing an abscess, a regular schedule of trimming the hooves is necessary and should be co-ordinated with a farrier. Often hooves that are not kept well trimmed and balanced are more prone to abscesses.
Having a farrier regularly trim and balance a horse’s hooves helps to keep the horse healthy, prevent pain, and lameness. Approximately 60 per cent of a horse’s body weight is supported by the horse’s forelimb and hoof, demonstrating the importance of having healthy limbs and having shoes properly fitted. When a horse becomes lame, often the farrier is called before the veterinarian. Using a farrier to help maintain the health of a horse will prevent many diseases and conditions that could lead to lameness or worse.
Thank you very much for your post Rebecca, it is very interesting and is great advice for people that may be dealing with hoof abscesses. The Anything Equine Store website also has a wide variety of blog posts so if you enjoyed this one go and take a look! I particularly like one of the posts on equine biomechanics.