In April Minnie had an abscess in her right fore hoof, which burst through the coronary band. Initially, the exit-hole was quite small, but on its way down the hoofwall it stretched and became bigger, until it looked like this (picture taken in September):
You can clearly see a stress-line at the same height as the abscess exit-hole; the abscess itself could have caused this, and the fact that she was on Bute for a week certainly wouldn’t have helped. I knew I could expect trouble from the exit-hole as it was growing out, but I thought it wouldn’t happen until it was much closer to the ground. I wasn’t prepared for this – oh joy!
Funny how these things always greet you first thing in the morning! What do horses do at night? Anytime I go out to check them they are always either peacefully grazing, or dozing under the trees, but there are times when I suspect they secretly do hand-stands or climb trees or develop other dangerous hobbies! Whatever Minnie did, there was a large chunk missing and the hole was packed full of dirt. After I brushed most of the dirt out I got a better view of the damage. I could see dead lamina in the hole and the edges were all sharp. I got my rasp out to try and smooth everything out, but it was not easy and the hoof-rasp was just too big. Fortunately, as a sculptor I have a whole array of marble rasps, and I picked out a small riffler with curved blades that was just perfect for the job.
I have to say I felt a bit out of my depth here as I actually had to rasp inside the hole to make sure everything was smooth, but I couldn’t leave rough edges anywhere that might catch; that stress line looks horribly like a perforated line with the words “please break or tear here” printed above it! Here is the finished result after I rounded everything off as smoothly as possible:
I had to take the hoof-wall a bit further in than I would have liked, but Minnie didn’t seem to mind. She was not lame, even after my efforts to tidy her up, so at least there is no pain and there is no sign of infection. I expect more problems as the hoof grows out further, but for the moment I hope I have done enough damage control.
Fortunately, her sole is still intact, but there is a small hairline tear which I don’t like. Not much I can do about that, though..