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. 

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