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Roxan: Canker (of hooves)

  • Roxan is a heavy horse mare. At the time her owner bought her she presumably already had undiagnosed thrush.
  • March 2005: The farrier, while trimming the hooves, found heavy thrush which he treated by cauterization.
  • May 2005: Roxan’s hooves were treated by a hoof carer with the Strasser method. The hoof carer discovered that Roxan suffered from canker (of the hooves) on both fore hooves. The next day this diagnosis was confirmed by a vet. The vet gave a carefully positive prognosis and stated that the horse had to be treated for at least half a year or, in the worst case, for a whole year. The hooves were to be treated by radical surgery of the affected parts. After surgery the open coria were to be covered with detachable plates.
  • June 2005: The owner decided against this kind of therapy. The hooves were treated by the hoof carer and the horse received a homeopathic therapy.
  • July 2005: Canker (of the hoof) is also found in both hind hooves.
  • August 2005: Roxan begins to refuse lifting her hooves and so the treatment of the hooves becomes more and more difficult.
  • August 19, 2005: Roxan is lame on her left fore hoof and has a strong pulsation in the leg. A vet is called at once and takes over the treatment.
  • August 22, 2005: Roxan refuses to lift her hooves at all which makes further treatment impossible. The vet chemically burns the affected parts.
  • August 30, 2005: Roxan has to be taken to a horse clinic. The affected parts of the hooves are cut out under general anesthesia. After surgery the hooves are covered with acid liquid compresses. The bandages are changed every second day and Roxan receives a pain killer. The hooves are not treated with antibiotics.
  • September 8, 2005: Roxan gets hoof shoes with detachable plates. The canker of the hoof has "grown" and the prognosis is bad.
  • September 13, 2005: The treatment is changed. Instead of the acid liquid, iodoformether and a local antibiotic are applied.
  • September 20, 2005: Roxan undergoes surgery again.
  • October 4, 2005: The (hoof) canker has returned. The treatment is changed again and hoof canker spaste is used.
  • October 8, 2005: The treatment by a hoof orthopaedist begins.

Condition of the hoof on October 8, 2005

Roxan wears hoof shoes with detachable plates. One could smell, even before taking the hoof shoes off that the hooves were affected by extreme sepsis and were purulent. Roxan was suffering from canker (of the hooves) on all four hooves.

The hind hooves were comparatively less affected. However, both fore hooves were strongly affected with canker. On the left fore hoof, the infection had spread laterally up into the crown.

The central groove of the frog is very deep and obviously infected. Both fore hooves are in a very bad stress condition, each with more stress laterally.

The left fore hoof - which is the most affected hoof - has already been bent to a one-sided contracted hoof.

Progress of Treatment progression (Oct 2005 – Jun 2006)

Because Roxy refuses treatment by this time, only the horse shoes are removed. The owner of the horse is instructed to wash the hooves daily for the following week, thereafter to bathe the hooves in Rivanol solution and then to treat the frog with a liquid antibiotic. Hoof bandanges are applied over night. During the day, Roxy can graze without bandages with the other horses.

October 18, 2005

The first hoof orthopaedic treatment begins. The morbid parts of the horn have been washed away by the horse owner, the clean dermis is exposed. The infection has receded enough that the horse allows treatment. Further, a tampon is put into the central frog groove.

The measures taken by the hoof orthopaedist are intended to give access to the parts that are affected by hoof canker, as well as the recovery of the physical hoof situation. Both during this as well as during the following appointments, no kind of "bloody excretion”, as is common in canker treatment, occurs. Due to the owner's carefully carried out treatment, healthy frog horn has already built up on the hind hooves.

Now the horse owner follows the advice of the hoof orthopaedist: extensive washing, rivanol baths, antibiotics and tampons into the niches and pockets, all on a daily basis. At night the horse has to be in the stable with bandages on her hooves and has to be walked on the paddock once a day. Also, the hoof orthopaedist trims the hooves in two week intervals. The condition improves gradually.

January 9, 2006

The right fore hoof is cured. Only some orange colouring of the horn shows which parts of dermis had been infected. On the left fore hoof, which had been more infected from the beginning, there is only one spot about the size of a small coin where soft horn grows. The neighbouring horn sections show some strong red to violet colouring indicating that this horn had been developed by an infected corium. The condition of the hooves have much improved.

During the following winter months, the condition of the left fore hoof stagnates. At first, it was thought that this was due to the winter climate which made a hygienic procedure more difficult. However, this turned out to be false. The condition of the hoof didn't improve because of the lack of physical pressure on the dermis of the frog.

June 5, 2006

As it became possible to improve the proportion of pressure to the hoof, the condition of the frog horn improved accordingly. In June the left fore hoof is healed completely.

The owner decides to keep the hoof orthopaedist for further treatment, even after the successful therapy of the hoof canker.

The example of Roxan shows that canker (of the hoof) can be treated successfully if sensible hoof work is combined with sensible wound treatment.

Apart from the improvement of the hoof situation through the hoof treatment, it is also necessary for the horse owner to apply exacting care and hygiene measures.

It is essential to avoid any medication that could irritate the dermis of hoof as well as anything that dries out the horn.

The altered "canker horn” has to be taken off regulary. This can be done without surgery that causes bleeding, simply by softening the horn with a mild water-jet and washing it off.