It took a little doing, but I have finally figured out what does and does not work for keeping the canker hole clean and dry, and we are settling into a routine.
Here's the line up:
And here's an overview:
I'm cracking myself up here.
We have an assortment of socket wrenches, a hand drill, hammer, bolts and washers, several hoofpicks, tweezers, Softcups, OB tampons, plastic baggies, gloves, and the medication. It's quite a bucketful of supplies.
We go through a lot of bolts. The picture below shows what happens when a draft horse wears them. It makes it really difficult to get them off once he's ruined them, so I carry several different socket wrenches with me.
First I use a big heavy hammer to crush up the pills in a plastic sandwich baggie.
Then I put the cream into a softcup and add the crushed pills. We had liquid in the beginning, but it did not mix well with the crushed pills, and it was just a real pain to get into the hole without spilling all over me. Plus it stunk to high heaven.
Then I mix the cream and pills together. Normally I do wear gloves to do this. I've had numb fingers and a nasty taste in my mouth too many times from sticking my bare fingers into some of Tommy's medication. In this instance I've used this combination many times and know there's no side effects for me so I've become a little lazy with the gloves.
My mixture wasn't quite right, so I'm adding a little more cream and will mix it in.
It's baby tampon time! OB's are the perfect size to fit into the hole in Tommy's hoof. It's kind of scary isn't it???
Here's our work area. We use an old blue tarp, and a couple bags of shavings.
I use two sawdust bales because I don't want to hold Tommy's leg up that long any more than he does. It didn't take him long to figure out that this was much easier, and we're both all about the easy route! He will occasionally put his weight down onto the bales and the entire thing just lowers. Better them than me.
I also do this at feeding time. He doesn't get much feed, but at least he's got a little something to occupy him.
I use the drill to take off the bolts and washers. The plate was set up so that I could just remove three bolts and use the fourth as a hinge, however I've found it's easier just to take the entire thing off. That way if he pulls back and slams his hoof down I don't have to worry about the plate bending, or him stepping on it and ripping it off, or any other damage he could probably do with it. That happened quite a bit in the beginning of the hospital plate process.
Tommy's been very good about the drill. Even when it rattles the plate while tightening a bolt he stands for it. I can tell you this scenario wouldn't have played out this easily had it been Weapon.
The pinkish blob you see in the hoof is the old softcup and tampon and the mud/dirt that's creeped between the hoof and shoe. The mud you see is on the surface and has not worked past the softcup and tampon.
I take the softcup with the medication already inside it and push it up into the hole. I'm basically flipping it inside out so that the medication is against the interior of the hoof and lined by the plastic of the softcup. Then I put the OB into the hole to secure the softcup. The softcups have a pink rubber ring along the outer edge, and it will smoosh together, so I can flip on side a bit under the lip of the shoe, and the other side under the silicone.
I have to admit that this photo was a surprise when I saw it because I thought I'd had all of the dirt off the silicone. Since viewing this, I've since added a handheld LED light to my equipment.
I try to keep my supplies close, but it never seems to be quite close enough. I especially hate it when I drop a bolt and have to search for it.
I've tried plastic baggies, saran wrap, and condoms, but the softcups and OBs seem to work the best. If it's rainy and wet the tampon is sometimes soaked through, but as long as he's in the stall or in the feed lot I've not yet had problems keeping the interior of the hole clean/dry. It's not a solution for more than a little bit of mud, and absolutely no water deep enough to cover the hoof. I see another winter spent primarily in the barn and feed lot for Tommy. Luckily Tommy doesn't seem to care if he's there...his hay is closer that way!
I'd like to breathe a big sigh of relief here, but we still have the entire winter ahead of us. So I'll just give a tiny sigh and hope that the snow and ice don't throw us back to the drawing board.