Staff Infection & Tender Heels

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Q: My horse has gotten a severe staff infection in all four feet which has affected his heels and caused a deep crack in them. He has been on antibiotics for 2 weeks as well as I am putting liquid tetracycline in the crack. It is getting better slowly, but I was wondering if you had ever seen this before. My vets have not, nor has my blacksmith. They believe it is due to the extremely wet conditions we have had this year and to the fact that my horses immune system does not seem to be strong enough to fight off this type of infection. I have put him on Farriers Formula, Strongid C, and MSM, as well as 3 shots of Equistim, but I was wondering if you had seen this before and if there might be something else I can do to prevent this from happening again. I have not been able to ride him because his heels have been so sore and tender. I would appreciate any input you may have.


A: Without seeing your horse it is a little difficult to know if these cracks run horizontally or vertically. This could have some bearing on the treatment given. As far as infections in the horse's foot, I have dealt with abscesses due to laminitis, stone bruising, puncture wounds, thrush, canker, etc. I have found that putting the horse on systemic antibiotics very rarely does much good for infections in the horse's feet. I have, however, had success with three products which I will mention so that you can discuss them with your veterinarian.

First of all packing or bandaging feet and using ichthammol as a drawing agent can be beneficial. Applying Durasole to combat infection and to toughen the horny laminae sometimes helps. Also frequently useful is liquid antibiotic applied directly into the infected area. A convenient source of liquid antibiotic is that which is sold for use against mastitis in cows' udders and comes in plastic syringes with flexible blunt tips. It has knocked out many abscesses and infections for me. Some brands contain steroids and I always make sure NOT to get those. I need to state again that I am not a veterinarian nor am I prescribing these medications. Discuss them with your vet.

You might be able to assist your horse's sore and tender heels by having your blacksmith put on heart bar shoes. He should relieve weight bearing of the heels on the shoe about the thickness of a hacksaw blade, from the 3rd nail hole back . I would also suggest that you might want to direct inquiries to www.horseshoes.com in the "farriers helping horse owners section".

It wouldn't hurt my feelings if you got back to me and let me know how things work out. I would appreciate knowing what procedures you have tried, and what worked and what didn't work.

Good luck,

Geronimo Bayard
The Village Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.