Warm Hoof

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Q: My horse was shod last Monday.  On Wednesday when I arrived at the barn, I noticed that his front left was warm to the touch.  My farrier was there so he checked the shoes, hoof tested and found my horse to be a bit sensitive on the outside of the hoof. He removed the nail and replaced it.  My horse was not lame and we rode him for a half hour.  Two trainers watched him go under saddle and he was fine.  The next morning he was still warm in that foot and up the leg as well.  Strangely one of the diagonal back hoof (left) was warm too.  We again rode him under saddle and he is not off at all.  They gave him some bute last night.  Is this normal?  Everyone I talk to says I don't need a vet to look at him but I am considering having the farrier take a second look if he's not better by the weekends end.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.  Thanks,

A: First of all, I think you are on the right track. From Monday to Wednesday is just about right for a "close" nail to cause heat in a hoof. The diagonal hoof being warm, too is a bit of a coincidence, but not impossible, especially if your horse has thin walls which can require almost impossible accuracy from the farrier, or if the horse didn't stand well for shoeing, thus giving the farrier a moving target.

I would definitely have your farrier check the horse again if you still feel abnormal heat in the feet Sunday or Monday. Not only is the farrier likely to be less expensive than the vet, but the horses' feet are his specialty and of course he is in a better position to rectify the situation if it is indeed caused by a hot nail.
As long as your horse isn't lame and the heat isn't excessive, a little Bute would probably be what I would do for my horse, too. Just be careful not to administer enough to cover a major problem or to cause toxicity problems. I wouldn't give my horse any Bute within 12 - 24 hours before having the farrier or vet check him, though, so that the response to hoof testers, etc. will be a true one.
It is possible that the heat will turn out to be the first signs of a hoof abscess in which case the horse will usually go dead lame, usually quite suddenly. As frightening as this can be to the owner, abscesses are usually resolved fairly easily with proper treatment. In this situation I would again consult my farrier first and if not satisfied with the progress I would go to my vet.
You didn't say how long you have had your horse so I don't know how much experience you have had, but it sounds like you are an observant and conscientious owner so I would expect things will work out well for you. I'd appreciate it if you would keep me posted as to how your problem works out.


Mary Bayard

American Blacksmith
Murphys, California

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
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