DDx

As I wandered up to the pasture on Sunday, just after Archie had eaten, I immediately knew that he was not quite right.  Like the good pony he is, he hobbled up to me, let me halter him, shove my finger around the frog of his left front, then he requested a moment to get a drink before we slowly ambled up from the back forty to the wash rack.

  • DDx = differential diagnosis - the process of elimination to make a determination
I pulled off his fly boots and bell boots and immediately started my physical exam of that front left.  I felt the tiniest amounts of heat in his cannon.  I cold hosed for ten minutes, during which he didn't really want to put his heel bulb down.  So I tossed him in a stall and ran to the nearest grocery store for epsom salt and diapers.


He soaked for a miserable fifteen minutes until he finally knocked over the bucket.  I dried him off and applied a poultice from his knee to his coronet band.  Standing wraps, some bute, and the "lane" pasture overnight, which is pretty darn tiny.


After seeing minimal improvement on Monday morning, I called my vet.  From my description, he said that he felt that it was probably an abscess, even though I noted a tiny bit of swelling along his SDFT.  He said that occurred when they didn't want to put pressure on the hoof, from a lack of circulation.


Monday afternoon had me pressing into his foot with testers and showing no response.  I crossed abscess off my list and moved on to tendonitis or navicular changes.  Even so, I stuck a duct-taped diaper on his hoof and still wrapped both legs.

Tuesday morning saw me looking skyward and airing my eyeballs while asking the BM if I could hold her nippers.


I couldn't get the shoe off myself because the nails on the good side were being blocked by the other clip.  In the process of trying to hold himself up on his "bad" leg, Archie almost dropped to his knees.  Horrible mom right here.

The vet came out about mid-morning and had some student with him.  Walking up, he had the hoof testers and I could hear him telling the guy about the percentage of sudden onset lameness cases that were actually just abscesses.  While waiting for the vet to come, I'd already pulled up Archie's rads from 6/12 and convinced myself that he was dying.  I told the vet that he was unresponsive to the testers and that he had the other clip embedded.

After taking the digital ("digit" like hands) pulse in his right front to check for laminitis, it took him approximately three seconds to find the abscess.

You know what?  On my list of good, okay, and fucking-kill-me-now potential diagnoses, I am so goddamn thankful for an abscess.


The vet pulled the bad shoe and the good shoe.  The downside to all of this is that Archie will have to start coming in at nights (for the time being) so that his feet have an opportunity to dry.  The vet felt that the wet conditions in the pastures (and it's been raining like a bitch) led to the abscess and degradation of the hoof wall.  He'll spend 5-7 days getting bute BID, epsom soaks (until sound), and icthammol boots.  He'll continue to be stalled at night until the farrier okays putting shoes back on.

...So Archie has the rest of the month off.

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15 comments

  1. thank goodness its only an abscess...sending healing vibes!

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  2. Aw, I'm with you - abscess is a good diagnosis! Sorry you can't ride, but glad he's not dying :)

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  3. Oh abscesses. Equal parts irritating and a total relief...

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  4. dude. this month has been the horrible-no-good-very-bad month of bloggers having lameness issues! SO happy it was just an abscess - here's to a quick recovery!

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  5. One fine hot summer Carlos came up dead lame, I cried and cried certain we would have to put him down. It was due to overly wet conditions in his stall caused by him being a pony genius and emptying his water buckets to lay in because it was so hot. Poopy water = stinky feetsies. Glad Archer is gonna be okay!

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  6. I'm treating Bobby's RH for an abscess as well for a stifle issue on the off chance that I get really lucky and that's all it is. Only fellow horse people can understand how good an abscess diagnosis is, even if it does take time to heal!

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  7. Excess water + hoofers = no bueno. You know Lily's story this past spring...both the vet and I thought she was somehow insulin resistant and had laminitis on all four feet, and it turned out that she just had really soft, sore hooves from standing in the mud during a long wet spell that had then bruised when all that mud froze during the ensuing cold snap. Glad it's just an abscess and that he will be okay!

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  8. Glad you got a diagnosis & treatment plan. Plenty pony bonding time in your immediate future

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  9. Ponies. Glad to hear the diagnosis is nothing too awful. He'll be good as new in no time.

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  10. Glad he will be ok! Some leg swelling is pretty common with abscesses.

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  11. Thank goodness it's just an abscess. More diapers and duct tape for you!

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  12. Glad to hear it's nothing worse than an abscess!

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  13. Relieved that it is an abscess but sorry for the unintended vacation! We have had a relatively wet summer here, but I imagine wet Georgia is very different than "wet" Colorado

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  14. Ugh, I feel your pain. My lease horse is NQR after an absess & is off for 6 weeks. I am just hoping it is nothing more serious.

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