The foot of the horse, and particularly the fore-foot, is especially liable to disease and injury. Some of the diseases are so serious as to require the utmost skill of the veterinary surgeon; while others are so simple that, though it is always better to obtain skilled assistance, an amateur may yet be able to do something towards curing them, or at least directing a farrier or groom how to proceed in cases of emergency.
These are wounds at the top of the hoof in the region of the coronet, and are usually caused by the animal placing one foot on the top of the other when turning round, and especially when weak or fatigued. Of course they vary in severity - from a simple injury which does not produce lameness, to a bruise or lacerated wound which produces great pain and lameness. If not carefully attended to, especially when severe, very serious results may follow.
The wound should be well washed if there is any mud or dirt in it, and then dressed with a little tincture of opium or compound tincture of myrrh; or painting with collodion will form a protective covering. If the wound is lacerated and torn, all the loose parts should be detached, the foot immersed in a warm-water bath or a poultice, and in a few hours afterwards dressed with tow steeped in carbolised oil, and retained by a bandage.
This is usually the result of a tread or other injury to the foot, followed by the formation of abscess, in most instances at the coronet, towards the quarters or heels, and causing great lameness and the manifestation of much pain on handling it. It is a very serious condition, and requires time, patience, and skill.
If a veterinary surgeon's assistance is not available, the shoe should be taken off and the sole pared, to discover whether the abscess is due to injury there, when an opening should be made so as to allow the matter to escape from below. The horn of the wall should be rasped away from it, so as to relieve the pressure; the foot should then be fomented with warm water for an hour or two, and a large poultice applied. When the abscess opens, the wound may require to be enlarged; but whether or not, a thin pledget of tow steeped in crude carbolic acid should be passed down to the very bottom of it with a probe, every day, until the discharge is completely dried up.
Sand-crack is a split in the wall of the hoof, which may occur at any part; but usually in the front of the hind-foot and the quarter of the fore-foot, and generally the inside one. This crack may occur quite suddenly from severe exertion, aided in some cases by faulty horn secretion. It commences at the top near the coronet, and extends downwards, penetrating to the sensitive parts within, which bleed and are bruised, causing great lameness and intense pain.
When much pain and lameness are present, the shoe should be removed, the horn rasped away at the crack, so as to remove the pressure, and the foot immersed in a bucket of warm water for an hour or so, and afterwards poulticed. If the lameness continues a veterinary surgeon must be called in, and the part well exposed, so as to discover whether matter is forming. When this has been done, it may be necessary to poultice for some days until the inflammation is subdued, and if any fungous granulations appear, the horn on each side of them must be carefully pared away. The part should now be dressed with tow and Stockholm tar or car-bolised oil, retained by a bandage, and when the part is hardened the shoe may be put on, and gentle exercise allowed if there is no lameness; but before the shoe is applied it is better to remove a portion of the lower part of the wall below the sand-crack, so as to relieve it from the pressure of the shoe. In the meantime, some blistering ointment should be rubbed into the coronet; sometimes a notch is made by the hot iron at the top of the crack, and immediately below the coronet; this and the blister expediting a new growth of horn. In some cases the fissure is clamped by special clips or clasps, which are made to grasp the wall on each side. In any case it is well, if the horse is put to work, to have the part protected by tar and tow, retained by a strap or tarred twine, until the sound horn has grown down.
The sole and frog are particularly liable to wounds and bruises from broken glass, sharp stones, nails, or splinters of wood. These will cause lameness and pain in proportion to their severity, wounds of the frog being sometimes accompanied by extensive haemorrhage, which must be checked by padding with tow, or applying a little muriate of iron. In nearly all these cases the services of a farrier are required to examine the foot, and to pare away the horn from the punctures and wounds, so as to relieve the sensitive parts from pressure when they begin to swell. Immersion of the foot in hot water for some time, and subsequent poulticing may be necessary. Particular care should be taken that no part of the foreign body is allowed to remain in the wound. 0