No leg to stand on

How many problems can one horse have in one leg? Last Wednesday, Minnie seemed a bit tender again, but I didn’t think much of it and put it down to over-exertion. However, on Thursday night, she came hobbling towards me, and she wasn’t putting any weight on her right fore. My heart sank. She had been doing so well, I couldn’t believe it. I knelt beside her and felt her leg, checking tendon and ligament. No change. When I got up again, Minnie pointed her leg, barely touching the ground with her toe. I was so worried that it took a few moments before it dawned on me to check her hoof, but when I did it was clear that was where the problem was; her hoof was hot, so there was probably an abscess in there.

I got the vet out – I’m considering taking out a season ticket the way things are going – and he confirmed that Minnie had an abscess in her hoof. As he started digging in an attempt to reach the site of the abscess, he commented that Minnie’s hoof was as hard as flint, he was barely able to open it up. Unfortunately, the abscess wasn’t ready to go yet, so it would need poulticing to draw it out.

Minnie was in terrible pain, and she was not impressed when I wanted to soak her foot in a basin with hot water and epsom salts. It was hard to explain to her that it was necessary, but once she understood what I wanted she was her usual helpful self. I realised how lucky I am that Minnie is such a nice girl and that soaking feet in buckets is something I should have practised ages ago, instead of waiting for an emergency to overtake us. Cassie will be seeing a lot of buckets soon!

The abscess burst after 2 days of soaking and poulticing. Minnie is still limping a bit, but she is in much better spirits and even tried a little canter today, so things are looking good again.

Meanwhile, I have been doing a lot of thinking about Minnie’s right fore leg. When the vet was scraping at Minnie’s hoof, he showed me evidence that she must have had an abscess in that hoof before, in more or less the same spot. I remembered that before I went barefoot, Minnie used to lose the right front shoes. Then there was the tendon injury and then the suspensory ligament. All in the same leg. It makes me wonder if that leg really is that weak, or if there is a reason why she keeps getting injured there. Is it possible that the root of the problem is in fact the opposite diagonal, an imbalance somewhere in her left hind leg? Her left hind feels stiff when I need to bring it forward to put on the hoofstand for trimming. Worth investigating when Minnie is sound again, I think.

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5 thoughts on “No leg to stand on

  1. Gosh. At least an abscess is good news. Well, not for the horse in terms of how she feels, but in terms of the healability of the problem.

    I bet you’re right about the opposite diagonal thing – I’ll be interested to hear updates.

    • June, Minnie is still a bit lame at the moment and I don’t think the abscess has fully cleared yet, but I asked the vet and he said it was quite possible for an imbalance somewhere else to cause all these problems. I plan to have the opposite diagonal properly investigated as soon as possible.

  2. Very interesting observation. I have a friend that had two surgeries on one knee because of an injury. It took about 6 or 7 years to determine the first surgery didn’t work before the second one took place. The recovery from both surgeries was lengthy, but the end result was successful. However, because her “good” knee had been compensating for the bad knee for so long, she started having problems with it and ended up having minor surgery to correct an over-compensating issue! I think you may be on to something with Minnie. Glad that she is feeling better.

    • Wolfie, welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting! That is an interesting story about your friend. It would be good to find the cause for all Minnie’s problems and even better if it would help to prevent further injuries.

  3. Come to think of it, my friend’s son had a similar problem to Wolfie’s friend – he had repeated injuries with one knee. Finally at age 21, it’s been determined that the problem was that he’d been putting all his weight on that one leg because of a problem in the other knee, caused by a too-large cast put on when he broke his ankle as a little kid and which interfered with the bone development in that knee.

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