Sunday, August 9, 2009

First look at Riley's hoof (icky wound alert!)

If you're squeamish, turn off images in your browser or stop reading. The pix are purposefully far down on the page.

Saturday Bob and I went to see Riley and meet with the vet. We had a Saturday appointment for her to show us how to wrap the hoof. It was also my first opportunity to see the surgical wound. Frankly I felt anxious. I'm responsible for protecting that traumatized hoof for the next four months.

Just as we arrived for the appointment, we saw a teenage girl being carried out of the barn by her mom and dad, with the attending vet trailing after. She had fainted at seeing her horse for the first time after surgery. Call it empathy, call it the power of suggestion--I started to feel light-headed. Bob saw me pause and take a few deep breaths. He grabbed my by the shoulders and propelled me into the barn. "Everything will be fine."

The unveiling
Riley looked bright and at ease, much more like his old self. They sedated him so they could take their time showing me the bandaging process. Riley isn't very patient, they told me. "When you're home you'll have to work faster than this." As they started to remove the bandage, Riley was dozing and I was hyperventilating. The last of the bandage finally came off. When I saw the extent of the wound, I actually knelt down to make sure I was seeing it correctly.

So what's it look like?
Sometimes it is good to be wrong. The vet's description was accurate, but my mental image (and the illustration I posted earlier, shown right) were wrong, wrong wrong. And this is a good thing. When the vet told me they had gone up to the coronet band, I thought they meant they took hoof wall up to top of the hoof. And I'd seen plenty of surgical pix that did just that.

But that ain't what happened here. If you've ever hollowed out a Halloween pumpkin, you did pretty much what the surgeon did. He scraped out the bad tissue and bone, but without removing the dorsal hoof wall. When I saw his hoof was intact, I wanted to jump up and down with glee. Instead, I stood there and blandly commented that it looked better than I expected. You can't imagine my happiness and relief. More hoof, more protection. Here are still shots from the video...

Icky wound alert.

If you aren't grossed out by the first picture, here is a better view to the hollow interior. All of the tissue you see there is new growth.

It's funny what odd things make horse people happy. When a horse is colicky, we do a happy dance when they finally poop. When they abscess, we're elated to see the disgusting exudate spew out. And now, I'm feeling positively giddy from the knowledge that Riley's hoof is as hollow as a dried gourd. Oh. Well.


  1. Wow, that does look better than I expected too. So now all the tissue inside has to grow back? Not at all sure here what the healing process will be. I take it it still is like his having to grow new hoof, but not from the outside. (I THINK I get it.)

    Much better for you in that all you have to worry about is the bottom. So what's the bandaging procedure? Layers of what before the vetrap and duct tape?

    If you haven't already looked, I got a super deal on vetrap stuff on eBay. It is flesh colored stuff by exactly the same and much cheaper. Just do an eBay search for either vetrap or co flex bandages. Just make sure the width is 4" Seem to be some good deals. I can't remember the search terms I used the first time, though.

    Hope you are feeling a bit better now. Glad you didn't faint. Poor girl, she must have had quite a shock. I wish her and her horse a speedy recovery too!

  2. Looks clean and good - and the hoof wall serves to protect it -not too bad! But then I don't really have an icky-alert - I almost was a med student and did really well in vertebrate zoology, which involved a lot of dissection!

  3. It actually looks quite nice! Looks like the healing process will be long, but well worth it!

  4. His hoof looks really good! That should heal faster and more easily than what I'd imagined. Of course, you'll need that fast healing with Mr. Impatient as your patient.

  5. That is good!! The surgery wasn't as invasive as it was thought it would be! Nor do the photos look as gory as you made them sound haha!

  6. I'm so glad that it's in better shape than expected. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to assume the worst and then find yourself pleasantly surprised. It's like me just dishing out big bucks for a bunch of xrays just to have them come out clean. I was thrilled they did, because it was ONLY a suspensory branch injury rather than arthritis. Some people are like, you can't ride for 3 months, that's terrible! I'm like, I will only have a lame horse for three months ... versus the rest of his life. It's all a matter of perspective.

  7. That does look much better than I expected! Very glad. Hope it heals nicely. I bet it will; it looks nice and clean and he's got a good mom to look after him! :)

  8. I am so glad to hear it is better than you expected. What a much better situation than way worse than you expected!

  9. It looks much better than what I was expecting! I was afraid it was going to be really, really bad, but it's not bad at not bad as having surgery can be....still gives me a little heebie-jeebie...but not at the picture - just knowing poor Riley has that going on!

  10. Poor Riley, though it does look much better than I had pictured it also. I wish him a speedy recovery and I send you positive vibes when you bandage him :)


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