Adventures in Abscesses: Part 2

We finished our pre-treatment exercising.  I felt Tiny start to use that hip more as he got tired.  That’s the great thing about bareback: it’s easy to feel subtle changes.  It’s bad enough he has a sore hoof, I didn’t want him to wake up with a sore hip (from compensating) in the morning.  I got off and hand walked him the rest of the time.  His movement returned to normal.

Adventure B:

Current Treatment with documentation!

Step 1: Find horse.  (At other end of carrot.)  Try to take decent picture in the dark from a really bad angle.  ???  Everything goes black.

Pull lens out of Tiny’s mouth.  Ew.

Step 2: Gather supplies  (Note: nothing that will touch the inside of his hoof is on the rubber mat.)

Step 3: Return empty syringe to helpful person who offered: it’s too big to inject Betadine into the hole.  Get a sterile plastic pipette instead.  Drop the skinny pipette, irretrievably, into the big bottle of Betadine. Get new pipette.  This time pour Betadine into cap, and fill pipette from cap.

Step 4: Rip duct tape into applicable sizes, place within reach.  Attempt self-photo of duct taped breeches.  Spend five minutes staring at picture wondering if thighs are really as big as they look.

Note: VetWrap is much handier stuck into boot top.

Step 5: Cut old bandage off.  Pick up hoof, treat problem areas around frog with medication.  Realize I can’t actually photograph what I’m doing, because I need two hands and a thigh to treat hoof.  Curse self out for having no common sense.  Swing camera onto back.  Maybe I can switch off treating and photographing?  Not enough light!  Turn on flashlight.  Not enough hands!  Put flashlight in mouth.   zat vorths. Prothlim zolvd.

Step 6: Hold hoof, swing camera around, angle my head so light from mouth shines on hoof: click.  Hole was packed with Betadine soaked gauze 2 x 2 to keep abscess open, draining, and medicated.  Note gauze is now white, removed diaper is white, presumably medication was absorbed inside hoof.

Step 7: Feel all proud of treating and taking picture at same time. Thith ith gawing to worth! Take now sterile tweezers and insert into hole, to make sure abscess hasn’t skinned over and is still able to drain.  You can tell how deep hole is by the length inserted.  It’s deeper than I can get the tweezers in, but I can at least get them in far enough to make sure it’s open.  I flush the hole with Betadine.  The red goop on me, Tiny, the mat and the tweezers is not blood.  The Betadine proved a little messy with my hands full.  Stuff new Betadine soaked gauze 2 x 2 into hole as far  up as possible, using pointy closed end of tweezers to push it in.

Step 8: Make sure hoof is clean.  Try six ways from Sunday to show the diaper application and take pictures.  Tiny got a little antsy.  Room service knocked just as I started to apply the diaper.

I had to forego the diaper/VetWrap/duct taping photos…this time…the most important thing: once the hoof is treated, it doesn’t go back on the ground until the last layer of duct tape is on.  Thus the necessity of speed over perfect application.  Diaper goes on with tabs on heel side, toe slides into center fold, tabs are opened and pulled around to the front and secured.  It’s easy to remember if you think of the heel as being the baby’s rump.  You always diaper with the round end (one with the tabs attached) on the rump and the flat end in front.

Step 9: Put down hoof and clutch lower back.

What is wrong with this picture?  VetWrap is far too tight at the coronary band.  Stick my fingers between the wrap and the hoof to see how much pressure the bandage is applying.

Step 9: Fix.  Using surgical bandage scissors (flat sided on one edge so can’t cut him) I cut two gussets into the wrap, and trimmed away excess diaper.  I want to be able  to get my fingers in comfortably.  Should be snug, but no pressure.

There is no packing in the “boot” at this moment in time. The hole itself is packed, but the rest of the hoof is dry and clean.  This keeps the hoof out of urine and puts in a moisture wicking layer of cotton padding.  Until we know the abscess is stable and healing, it’s a good option for Tiny.  Occasionally, if he’s really sore, I double diaper for the extra padding.

For those new to the miracle of duct tape on hooves, you never want to use it to tape the hoof without something underneath.  The vet and two farriers I know explained it doesn’t breathe, trapping more moisture in the hoof and making any cracks or peels worse. I have no idea why it breathes once you put a diaper and VetWrap underneath, but it does.  That hoof is dryer and harder than the remaining three.


11 thoughts on “Adventures in Abscesses: Part 2

  1. Michelle

    Jane, your talents never cease to amaze me! Photographer, vet tech, exercise rider, duct tape model….will you please leave SOME stone unturned for the rest of us mere mortals to try and match your amazing talents?!

  2. Jane

    Liz’ comment made me realize I left something out.

    The reason that hoof can’t touch the ground from diaper application to final duct taping: tape will not remain on as well if there is even an invisible amount of grit on the wrapping.

    If your horse is shod (generally shoes are pulled for an abscess) and you need to tape for some other reason, skip the duct tape and go right to Gorilla brand tape. It might still wear through, but it’s tougher. Shoes tend to wear right through this kind of wrap. Boots, if possible, are a much better choice.

  3. lizgoldsmith

    I’m impressed. I’ve never been able to get a duct tape boot to stay on for more than 15 seconds.

    I generally pack the hoof with magnapaste, stick a thermacare type heating pad over it, wrap it with vet wrap and put a Davis soaking boot over it. The boot stays on remarkably well and also keeps the hoof dry and clean (unless you are knee deep in mud like we are now!)

    1. Jane

      Brilliant! A thermacare heating pad. That might have saved him hours of pain. *adding to list*

      Tiny is between Davis boot sizes. Regular is far too small, large is sloshy. For a draft X he has small feet. I know some people use EZ boots to hold in the packing.

      We’ve found this works best for Tiny (he’s also in between EZ boot sizes) b/c he we can work or ride him in duct tape – it’s not thick enough to cause discomfort.

      Boots would be so much easier!

  4. Breathe

    Cool. I’m going to wrap my kids foot tonight to practice. She loves this stuff.


    Will her feet stay orange for long? I think she’s planning on sandals for easter.

  5. theliteraryhorse Post author

    Note about the duct tape:

    The pre-torn tape on the thighs came from watching a vet work with large baby that needed wrapping. Vets don’t usually have time for strip and place, and apply it off the roll just like VetWrap. But the riiiiiiiiiip of duct tape coming off the roll will spook some horses…most certainly a baby from the field.

    One more item to put on your sacking out list. 🙂

  6. Marissa

    I’m impressed that you were able to photograph as you did that. And glad to see I’m not the only crazy person with a complicated procedure involving hooves and duct tape. I think I may do a companion post, and we’ll have to play dueling banjos in the background or something. . . .

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Ok I know this comment is an ad for duct tape, but thought the site was kinda interesting (there’s fireproof duct tape?).

      I also know a real person wrote it, and I thank you for visiting. 😉 I believe duct tape spurs would make many horses very happy.


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