Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tommy's New Shoes

Friday March 11th was clear, cold, and windy.  Always fun weather for an excursion.  So after work Tommy and I loaded up and made the trip to Indiana to meet with Dr. A and his farrier TD.

I'd like to say it was a non-eventful trip, but I hate to lie to you.  

We circled the country block a few times looking for the correct place and finally found it.  The farrier (TD) was inside working on another horse when I arrived, so I sat in the truck out of the wind until he was finished.  When he came out of the barn and waved me in I pulled Tommy off the trailer.  

As soon as Tommy came off the trailer TD asked me if that was Tommy.  I replied that it was and continued forward.  TD was standing there staring at us and asked if I'd gotten him from CAB (he said the previous owner's full name).  At this point I had stopped and was staring at him.  It took me a minute, but I managed to say "Yes, and there's only one way you would know him."  He immediately launched into his story about CAB bringing Tommy to his place in July and how he'd even hitched him up for her to make sure that he drove well so that she could sell him.  

I admit that I was staring in shock with thoughts spinning through my head almost faster than I could catch them.  Finally he stopped talking and I said "So you're the farrier who put the front shoes on in July and covered up that hole."  We both gave each other the old hairy eyeball for what seemed like minutes.  Then he started backpedaling and saying that he couldn't really recollect, and that it may have been him, but it may have been someone else and that it was so long ago it was hard to recall.  I said that's funny, because you remembered his name, the owners name, the month he was here, and everything else you did with him, right down to how he acted driving...but you don't remember shoeing him?  He kept repeating that he just couldn't remember and it may have been him or may not have been him but he wasn't for sure.  I just wanted to jump up and down and scream Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

We waited in silence until the vet arrived 30 minutes later.  By that point I was a basket case, but the lid to my basket was still on.  Dr. A checked over Tommy's hoof and discussed with TD what he wanted done, then TD got to work.  Dr. A tried to make conversation, but my thoughts were swirling around my brain like a tornado.  I felt like I was face to face with an archenemy and couldn't stop thinking about the last 8 months and everything I'd done and all the money I'd spent.  I was so emotional I knew that if I tried to talk about it the lid would go flying off my basket, so instead I ignored everyone.  Totally awesome, rational adult logic, huh?

While Dr. A supervised the trimming, padding, and shoeing and talked to the farrier I tried to pull myself together.   Apparently I wasn't successful, because when they were finished Dr. A looked at me and asked if I was happy with the shoes.  All I could do was stammer and stare at him like a big ninny.  What I wanted to say was that of course I was not happy; I was face to face with the man who started my 8 month trek through abscess hell...what actually came out was Uh uh uh ummmm well, uh uh um um see, um uh well, we'll just have to see.  WTF was that?  Now I know that TD probably didn't actually make the hole, but he certainly assisted CAB by covering it up so that she could sell him to an unsuspecting buyer.  Does that reflect on the quality of his farrier work?  Probably not, but it certainly reflects on his ethics and morals.

I'd like to be able to say that I learned something from this experience, something profound and meaningful, and deeply relevant to life, or at least our situation.  Or that I gained a sense of closure.  But I didn't.  Unless you count learning that horse traders can be liars.  Must have missed the memo on that one.  Or possibly learning that I'm still susceptible to being overly emotional and not nearly as tough and rational and capable in a tough situation as I'd like to be.  

If I could go back in time I would not return Tommy and start with another horse; but had I known about the problem, or seen it with my own eyes, I would have passed him by.  Is that learning something?  I don't know because I never regretted buying him.  

Right now the only things I've take away from this experience are:

          1.  I met one of the people responsible for masking 
               Tommy's problem from me and setting me
               down the long road to recovery with him; and

          2.  The Devil shod my horse.  Twice.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Check Up - March 9, 2011

On Wednesday March 9th I loaded Tommy up and took him back to Dr. A at East River Equine Hospital so that he could recheck his hoof.

Tommy was walking soundly and had only a bit of stiffness when he came out of the stall.  Dr. A was pleased to see that Tommy was not showing any signs of discomfort and that he was moving soundly.  He checked his hoof and found one remaining pocket of infection which he cleaned out.  He then repacked the hoof with medication and wrapped it up.  I should have thought to take photos before the medication was put in, but I didn't!

We went back into the office and reviewed the x-rays again.  Dr. A took the time to go over everything again.  Since our initial appointment I'd had time to process all of the information and had some questions.  I feel like he was more positive this time on Tommy's eventual return to useability based on his soundness today.

Dr. A will be meeting me at the farrier's on Friday to see the shoes and pads being put on.

Tommy went back to the barn for a little turn out time and he was full of hijinks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tommy's left front x-rays

These are the xrays of Tommy's bad hoof and leg.

This is the side view, and then below is a close up of the side view.  I don't know if it makes anything more visible.

This is the front view:

And here is the view from the bottom of the hoof upwards.  This one was hard to get clear photos of.

We had xrays taken of his right front too, just to give us a clearer idea of any problems we would be facing there, and I've put them on the previous post.

Tommy's right front x-rays

These are the x-rays from Tommy's left front.  The xrays were on a computer screen and I took pictures of them there, so they aren't quite as clear as they could be.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

February 24, 2010 - East River Equine Hospital

Seven months into treatment and Tommy's hoof was still not healing, so I decided to get a third opinion.  I had recommendations for two different vets in Indiana; both with good reputations for hoof/leg problems.  I chose to call Dr. Alexander at East River Equine Hospital for the super scientific reason that he was the beginning of the alphabet.  Since he also has a long name and I'm a lazy blogger, I'll be referring to him as Dr. A from here on out.

They suggested bringing along Tommy's December x-rays by a previous vet just in case they could eliminate additional x-rays, so I made sure to pick them up that morning and bring them along.  I loaded Tommy up and headed off to the vet clinic with Mom and the boys.  Tommy was calm and cool as always, but still a bit worried.  Hospitals scare everybody.

Dr. A examined Tommy's hoof and then read the x-rays.  We did end up having to take additional x-rays, but I appreciated the attempt to lower the expenses.

The new x-rays came out clear and showed what a hot mess Tommy's front legs are in.

In addition to the large abscess hole and the thrush, he has a hole in the coffin bone (which is inside the hoof for my non-horsey friends) which got infected and the infection mineralized the surrounding bone. He said they may have to go in and remove the infected part of the bone.  During this part of the conversation he mentioned maggot therapy and my brain immediately blanked him out!  He has low ring bone, side bone, bone spurs, and arthritis in different places. 

Dr. A and Kim sedated Tommy and all of the infected area was removed.  That was a lot of black hoof interior that came out of there, and let me tell you that stunk up the whole room!  I don't know if I'll ever get that smell out of my nostrils.  YUCK.

Then it was time for a Clean Trax soak.  This was our second Clean Trax.  I'd done a full hour on Tom earlier in the month with limited results.  Now that I know the extent of the infection though, I don't know that anything would have helped before all the infection was removed.

It was still bleeding after the soak, so the vet whipped out a handy little hair dryer.  Now this was no cute girly hair dryer, oh no, this was a high powered drying machine in bold yellow.  Obviously closer to Craftsman than Conair.  My husband would have been jealous even though we have no use for one.

Here is what the hoof looks like all cleaned out now.

Then he packed it with medication and wrapped it up and we were ready to head back home.

Dr. A and Kim spent almost 2 hours with Tommy and I.  I'm very thankful that they scheduled so much time around our appointment.  While it was a lot of information to process at the time, both Kim and Dr. A were super nice and never made me feel like they were out of time or rushing me out the door to bring in the next person.

Dr. A suggested a farrier and he is going to meet us and have a shoe with a medicated pad but on to seal the bottom.  Then we will plug the hole out the front with gauze/tape and I will continue medicating trough the top hole. Depending on the hoof growth/inside healing/no reinfection, in May he may be able to seal the holes closed with epoxy. They said we are 6-12 months out for the hoof to fully regrow.  Depending on how sound he is after that we may need to look at some additional solutions to bring him back to rideability.  

I'm really on the fence about putting a shoe on even temporarily because I know how ouchy he was when shod. I knew about the ring bone and bought him anyway. Pulling the shoes relieved the abscess pain, but he is also sounder in the other front leg. I'm assuming it was because of the concussion. He's got some BIG shoes. Not to say that he was dead lame and I was never able to ride him, just that there is a difference in his way of going. I don't know how much to attribute to the shoes, the abscess, etc. as there are so many variables in play. 

I think it's a good thing Tommy doesn't know what a mess he is.  Just Wednesday he was tearing around the indoor. While tearing around for a draft horse is admittedly a different speed than a light horse, but I can't reconcile the two. There can't be as much discomfort as the xrays indicate there should be or he wouldn't be doing that. Not that I'm disagreeing with Dr. A's assessment, I just tend to think that maybe Tommy's tougher than another horse.  Or maybe I just want him to be. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

These are a few of our favorite things...

Almost seven months into treatment, and I've found several things that make life easier.


Vetwrap is amazing.  Do not confuse the efficacy of Vetrap with the various copycat brands.  I've used several other brands, and have not found anything that has the same hold and durability as Vetrap.  I did notice that color played a part in the "stickiness" of those brands, with red being the worst by far.

Vetwrap is more expensive.  I was paying $2.29 per roll, but found a distributor last month for $1.69.   I've been using 1-2 wraps a day since September 14th.  I'm afraid to sit down and really do the math, but I know I've spend over $300 in bandages.

I heart you vetrap, but maybe I should have bought stock!

2.  Davis Soaking Boot

I finally broke down and bought one of these in January.  It's been the best $45 I spent throughout this whole ordeal.  Seriously.  This makes life so much easier.  Before I was soaking in a tall rubber feed tub and had to stand there and coax him to keep the foot in the tub.  With this I can pop it on the hoof and fill it with the medication du jour and leave him in the cross ties while I'm piddling around the barn or grooming him.  Even if he moves he can't dump it out.  It's been invaluable with the 45 - 60 minute soaks.

The only con IMO is that the fastening system could be better.  It took me a bit to get the hang of it, and it does not actually fit snug to the leg.

I wish I'd bought this in the beginning.

3.  Easyboot RX

These made my list because they've made it easier for me to keep the hoof clean.  Tommy wouldn't have gotten the outside turn out in the winter without them, because I had no way to keep debris from getting inside the hole in the hoof.  I did use vetrap under the boots because they rubbed the hair off in places and left it raw and bloody.

There are some cons.  I bought them the beginning of December, but waited until our next trim (12/27) to put them on.  By January 14th one of the boots had developed a hole at the velcro.  Guess what?  The warranty is only good for 30 days from purchase.  Since I put them on weeks after I ordered them, I was out of luck.  After wearing them for several weeks they loosened up quite a bit and now twist unless I wrap the hoof under them.  They also hold in heat and moisture like crazy; when I take them off the neoprene is warm and wet to the touch.

At $120 for the pair, they are one of the pricier solutions, but it's tough to find a boot to fit draft horse hooves!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Six months into treatment....February 17, 2011

I bought Tommy July 28, 2010. At the time he had an abscess that had come out of the top of the left front hoof just below coronary band. The abscess site closed and appeared to be healed up, so I had a few weeks of riding. His farrier appointment was in September, and when his shoes were pulled the farrier discovered that his new shoes (right before I bought him) had been put right overtop of the abscess. There is an actual HOLE in in his hoof. A hole. It's two thumbs wide and a pinky finger deep. Here is a picture:


Since September I have soaked, medicated, and wrapped his foot. The abscess will heal a bit, but continually re-abscesses. I have had the vet look at it in July, December, and January. We have done 2 rounds of antibiotics. We have done x-rays and there is no foreign material in the hoof showing up. I have EasyBoot Rx's that he wears in the front. He has been confined to a stall to try and keep the moisture out (thrush was a problem once I started booting). I have a barefoot/natural farrier, who is doing a great job working with Tommy now. While she's been trimming my other horse for a year, I'd been using a draft farrier for Tommy and so yesterday was her 2nd time with him. These are the photos from his second trim last night:





Right now the hole is still open to soft tissue and it is still infected. The outside of the hoof is hollow if you thunk it because the hole is so large. I am medicating and packing the hole, then vet wrapping, and putting the boots on. He's still confined to a stall or the indoor arena.

I'm decided to start this blog because I've never had an abscess last for 6 months, and I've definately never had a hole in the hoof like this. I've done Epsom salts, Clean Trax, Coppertox, Wonder Dust, NO Thrush, Ichthymnal, Iodine, and Magna Paste.  

It's now March and I decided to start this blog to chronicle his journey.