Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Phil from Jeromesville, OH emailed this question to my website:

We have an older (mid 20’s) appaloosa that had been neglected and hasCushing’s. Recently she started to limp the veterinary found an abscess and wetreated by soaking in Epsom salt and an oral medicine for inflammation. When theveterinary was there the frog came out, she said it would grow back?It is now a couple of weeks later and she is limping again. We have startedsoaking and the oral medication per the veterinary’s instructions. We cannot see another abscess? Will the frog grow back? Is there more we can do to help her, we have heard about a soak boot and Epsomsalt poultice? What can we do for prevention?Do you have any recommendation on what we should feed her since she has Cushing’s? Thank you,Phil

Answer: (It's a long one!)

Thank you for contacting me and for trying to do what’s best for your horse. First to answer the question about the frog: Yes, it will grow back. It takes awhile sometimes depending on her current hoofcare. So I have some questions for you.

Is she barefoot? I’ll assume she is or you probably wouldn’t be contacting me. How often is she being trimmed?

She should be trimmed no less than every 5 weeks. And how is she being trimmed? If she is being trimmed by a horseshoer (pasture trimmed) it would be better for her hooves is she was being trimmed naturally.

Shedding of the frog is usually caused by thrush. Which can be very painful and mimic laminitis or abscess. Cleaning the hooves daily and spraying with "gentle" iodine can really help thrush. (note: stay away from the harsh chemical treatments found in the feed stores). For the abscess, your vet offered the correct prescription. And you may be seeing a recurrent limp because when there is one abscess hiding in a hoof, there is often more than one. Abscesses just have to run their course once they start causing pain (and sometimes swelling up the leg) and soaking them or using a poultice can help. You might also offer her some bute temporarily for the discomfort. You could ask your vet about that. Whenever I trim my horses, I spray the bottoms of their hooves with “gentle” iodine. That helps with thrush around the frog which as I mentioned, could possibly be part of your horse’s problem at this time since her frog has shed–thrush will cause that to happen, but spraying will also help toughen their soles and it helps with abscessing.

Another product I like to use that you can get off the internet or from your vet is called Equi-Phar MG-60. It’s a topical poultice by VEDCO. It’s 60% Epsom Salt and has Methyl Salicylate (a wintergreen liniment). I will use this to pack into the bottom of the hoof and then wrap with vet wrap and duct tape. If the horse is stalled it will stay on for awhile. If they’re on pasture, it usually doesn’t last long. It's a great liniment for other problems as well.

As far as the cushings goes. There are grains being manufactured now for horses that need to be on low NSC (non-structural carbohydrate) grains as Cushing's horses do. If you’re going to feed your horse grain, it’s imperative that they are on low NSC grain. One that I know of is made by LMF and that’s what it’s called. Low NSC grain. I’m not sure yet if Purina is manufacturing that or not, but I’m going to be checking into it. Also, the other thing about Cushings is that laminitis is often a symptom of cushings. So you’ll have to determine if your horse is suffering from abscesses or laminitis or both. But if it is laminitis, getting her on a diet of good quality grass hay and low NSC grain should help her symptoms. I’ve got several customers with Cushings horses and they are doing very well and are riding their horses, by keeping them on this diet, plus frequent natural trims. Also cushings horses cannot be put out on green pasture and very little alfalfa and NO ORCHARD GRASS.

Getting some boots for your horse, such as the Soft Ride hoof boots, will give her some comfort while she is going thru the healing process, but shouldn't be left on 24/7 because the hoof needs to be in use and getting lots of air. Boots can cause rubbing and soften the bottom of the hoof.

If you’re not using a natural hoofcare practitioner, you might check the American Hoof Association website and see if there is anyone in your area. I hope this helps you. Please let me know how she does. I’m always curious about the progress of horses I hear about no matter how far away they are. I wish you the best. Pat

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