A few days ago, I went out to do morning chores only to find JB very very lame. At first, I thought it was his front right, and my heart skipped a beat but when I asked him to move off he looked lame on both fronts. His paddock was very muddy and he was slipping around so it was hard to tell exactly which leg he was lame on. I checked him over, no swelling, no cuts, no heat. If I had to give the lameness a grade, he was probably somewhere between a 2 and a 3. The mud and bad footing made it hard to detect much of anything definitely and since he didn't act like he was in any large amount of discomfort, I threw him his hay and headed into work for the day. I would have to address it more closely later. That was Wednesday.
That evening I checked him over more thoroughly and was able to determine it was not his front right, but instead his front left. Still no swelling, hheat or cuts that I could fine anywhere, however, he was holding his heelup, keeping his fetlock cocked so as not to put weight on the back of hhis foot. At first, I thought well, he must have slipped in the mud and ttweaked something. I had a vet appt scheduled on Saturday so I decided to jjust keep a close eye on it and if he got worse, I would have to vet check the leg out. Ofcourse, he got worse.
On Saturday, JB had a pretty strong pulse in the front left. The vet hoof tested him, checking for a bruise, inflammation (laminitis) or indicators of an abcess but nothing revealed itself in those areas. We ended up doing xrays to check for a broken coffin or navicular bone. Nothing, which was good news. We decided that the only possibility was that it could be an abcess in the coronary band or a bruise in the heel that was fairly deep and undetectable. We wrapped his foot in a poultice and they sent us home with instructions to keep him contained (in case it was a soft tissue injury in the hoof or leg), keep his foot wrapped for 48 hours, give him bute that afternoon and see how he did.
By the next morning, JB was even more lame and the back part of his lower cannon (just above his fetlock joint) was hot and swollen. I gave him 1 gram of bute for his discomfot and spoke to the vet late that morning. He wanted us to pull the bandage off and repack it because he was certain it was an abcess. Ofcourse, my med kit had everything but what I needed to repack the foot properly. I had to run into town anyways so I planned to stop at the vets to get some Magna paste (way better for a drawing salve than Icthamol)and wrapping material and then get the foot rewrapped later in the afternoon.
By the time I got home, JB seemed to be feeling better so I let him out into his pasture to graze for a while. He took off running and bucking, sans a bit lame yet but he seemed better. I planned to repack the foot after a while when he had a full belly. When I finally got the bandage off Saturday evening, I noticed a strong putrid smell, something I recognized as pus. I looked the foot over and sure enough, there it was. The abcess had obviously erupted, which would have explained JB feeling better earlier in the day.
The abcess was on the left heel bulb and things were still looking a bit swollen and tender. I soaked his foot for 15 minutes in Epsom salt and then repacked the area with a bit more Magna Paste, in case there was still some drainage. I rewrapped everything to keep it clean(with all the mud around) and will pull it off again tomorrow.
It's been a while since I have had a horse abcess and have never had one at the heel bulb . Not sure what could have caused this , possibly he caught himself with his hind foot or it is simply just the fact that it's been so muddy. Either way, JB is already feeling 90% better since it released and I am so relieved that this is all it was...