One week ago I went to get Lyra from the general pasture and to my great dismay found her standing by herself, only moving on three legs. Her right front hoof was obvioulsy extremely painful and bearing no weight. I immediately thought ABSCESS!!! Once Lyra had hobbled out of the GP and into the Redwood Barn, I soaked her hoof in espon salts, then slathered on mag-paste and wrapped it with vet wrap and duck tape. Into our pen went Lyra, a VERY unhappy girl.
Now here was the critical decision for me, was this a vet call or was this a treat and "wait and see". There was no swelling anywhere on her body, and no heat except for the medial heel bulb of her right front hoof. She also had significant white line separation on the medial side of her right hoof. This is her wry hoof that is so challenging to trim and keep balanced. I thought back to Red's August lameness and my $800.00 vet bill that did absolutely nothing . . . nothing but "keep him confined and wait and see, we can start hock injections if you want (I did not want). Bottom line - no swelling, pain response to pressure, or heat. I decided to wait and see.
By mid-week Lyra was much better, still lame but bearing more weight on her lame leg. My first conclusion of an abscess was losing ground to a new idea that her hoof was compromised by the high sugar content spring grass and the evidence was the separated white line. I trimmed accordingly, ensuring the hoof wall was passive to the sole and giving a healthy bevel all the way around. I also made Lyra a hoof pad from a thick gardening knee pad trimmed to fit and secured with duct tape.
Whatever the cause, by last night Lyra was bearing weight equally on both front hoofs. She was still obviously a bit tender on her front left but not lame at a walk. For the entire 7 days she stood at the south side of her pen, attention riveted on the general pasture, watching and grieving her herd. Last night I turned her back out. Today she was still weight bearing on both front legs, walking a bit tenderly when she moved across hard ground. She seemed to easily move without discomfort. I will continue to practice "wait and see".
Gotta tell you, I went though major guilt about not calling the vet. It wasn't the money. Any tenderness, heat, or swelling and I would have been on the phone. I wanted to see if I could coax the hypothetical abscess to open up as I did not want a hole dug in Lyra's difficult hoof. Nothing ever opened up, yet as of tonight things seem to be just about back to normal even though the actual cause is still a mystery.