After a pretty intensive year, the arrival of a new puppy, and the desire avoid burn-out, this fall I’m taking a timeout from riding – a few weeks off for me and the horses won’t do any of us any harm. They are cheerfully covering themselves in mud and enjoying the cooler weather while I get on with some indoor quilting and knitting projects that have sat in the corner all year.

New puppy Finn “helping” me feed the horses – why does the hay net have to be the bestest dog toy ever?

Unfortunately, the horses didn’t get the memo about this break and have continued to try and maim themselves. Fergus managed to slice open his muzzle – caught on what, I have no idea – but he couldn’t have worn a bit if I’d wanted him to.

And then last weekend two horses turned up gimpy. One hasn’t been ridden in a year and the other has been retired for six years, so I’ve no idea why they even bothered with this extra effort.

First Provo, my 24-year old ex-endurance horse was so stocked up in the back that he couldn’t move. It turned out that he was unwilling to put weight on his right rear so the left was doing all the work and had thus turned into an elephant-leg, making him even less willing to move around. A few days of bute, plus the lure of grazing in the orchard finally got him moving and judging by yesterday’s mayhem (he got into the chicken feed and the [sealed behind a door, in a bin, with a bungee cord over it] [no-longer unopened] sack of beet pulp), he’s on the mend now – but still no clue as to what the problem was to start with.
Provo, also known as Black Button Eyes, enjoying his new digs – no sharing, no mud, endless supply of food…
On Sunday it was Uno’s turn. Uno seems to think that it’s his duty to produce an abscess around this date every year, whether we need one or not. So looking at the calendar, I could easily guess what the cause of his gimpiness was likely to be.
While trimming his right front foot a week or two ago, I’d noticed a black line between bar and sole. Uno grows a lot of bar which likes to lie over, trapping bacteria. I dug a little with my hoof knife but unfortunately, it went deeper than I was willing to pare, so at that point I left it alone.
I don’t have a photo of the current problem, but here’s one I prepared earlier:
Uno’s foot in February 2011. Same problem, different month/year.  (see black line on the right side of the photo where the bar meets the sole). And yay for records: according to my notes, he also abscessed on this same foot in January 2010… I’m picking up a pattern. 
Sure enough, upon investigation this time, the black line was still evident and some gentle probing with the hoof knife produced some black ooze. Hah.
Looking out at the squishy mud, I needed to figure out a way to keep it clean and poulticed. Easyboot Glove to the rescue! Uno’s sole got slathered in ichthammol, duct taped, and slipped into a size 2  Glove.
This morning I cleaned everything up and discovered that the abscess had other ideas about coming out the same way it went in, and it looks like it has chosen to come out of his heel bulb. So yet more extensive glopping of ichthammol, more wrapping, more duct tape, and Glove boot back on.
He’s now ensconced in his own stall which he enjoys greatly because it means he doesn’t have to share hay. We shall call him The Little [OK, Fat] Prince.
A few horses got juggled around this morning to accommodate their new disabilities and I’m running out of out-of-the-mud spaces to put them. Not to mention the added fun of a torrential downpour predicted for later this week. So much for taking a break from horse activities.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California