Time to have a little talk. Jed is happy and much improved, but he is far from out of the woods with his recovery from severe founder. Jed is very lame right now. Since last week, his right front leg has been swollen from the knee down. Some days it’s better, some worse. Experience (and Geri!) tells us that this is likely an abscess brewing in his hoof somewhere, an infection that needs to push it’s way out. This is as painful as it sounds, but generally not life-threatening. Normal horses sometimes get abscesses, and are lame for a short time, and then recover. But Jed’s is more complicated.
Jed has a few problems that he’s fighting at the same time. Bear with me while I try and sum it up (which is good practice for me, since this is new to me as well). Jed’s laminitis and founder has caused the bone inside his foot to rotate forward; this is also as painful as it sounds. It creates increased pressure on the hoof wall, which is relieved by lots of trims to keep his hoof short and his heel low, while he grows a new, attached hoof. The problem right now is two-fold; the rotated bone is putting pressure on the front of his hoof, decreasing bloodflow to that area, causing it to weaken. It looks like it might just cave in. One solution would be to shorten his heel radically, to change the angle of his hoof and relieve pressure (hopefully), but trimming a hoof that is brewing an abscess is like dental surgery without anesthesia. Not possible. We could completely knock him out and do the trim, and we may.
Conversely, there is a more radical approach to relieving that front pressure; the more common approach is something called a section, where they knock the horse out and cut off most of the front hoof, right under where it’s collapsing. Then they put a ‘boot’ on that is drilled in on both sides, to support the horse while he grows a new hoof. Frankly I am terrified by this prospect. But maybe it would work? I imagine this boot, and it’s care, would last about six months.
There is a newer approach that is much less invasive, involving drilling holes in that same area to relieve pressure; the horse still has to be knocked out, and as you can now imagine, it’s very difficult to predict which, if any, of these measures might work.
Jed has barely been willing to lift up this foot, but we did get a brief look at the bottom today (he did pick it up when I asked, sweet boy). It’s way overgrown. Something should probably be done. It would be possible to wait, keep giving him the anti-inflamatory herbs, and hope that the abscesses break and he feels better enough to be trimmed. This is the least invasive approach and may be best. Sometimes aggressive medicine has it’s own new challenges, including stress, infection, etc.
Performing either of the operations would require us to trailer Jed to someone hours away, a dangerous move in itself with his instability. Another factor, is, what vet? there is no vet that we know who might even perform the second version, it’s so new. So right now this option is still only a theory.
Now add the concern for ‘supporting limb laminitis’, i.e. the other leg that’s doing all the work, failing. This is what actually becomes the ‘straw’ for many horses, as owners futilely try slings, and other injuries occur. We are quite concerned about his left foot. It’s not a well foot either, that left hoof. And Jed is huge and heavy, even as a thin Belgian. Is your head hurting yet from all of the factors? Mine is!
I know this is more detail then many of you want, but this record is also for me; We’re going to make a decision and plan our next step. I hope to be able to read back in years, and look out the window at a healthy Jed, and think, “oh yeah, I remember how dark those days were”. I hope. But right now I am just not sure. His foot looks terrible and he keeps telling me it hurts.
Please keep us in your thoughts.