Remember when Darla blew an abscess, way back in January? The shockwaves of that are still being felt all the way now in August. There was a sweet spot a few months back where she was sound, and we thought that we were in the clear. But it was not to be. Shortly after we got Darla back into regular work, she came up lame again. That same hoof again, the dreaded left front, was still proving to be an issue. So we soaked her, we wrapped her, and we rested her. The one positive about all this — we’re getting really good at duct tape boots!

But despite all of our efforts, Darla’s foot stubbornly insisted on carrying on giving her issues. It was time to break out the big guns (or dremels, as it turned out). We called upon the talented Dr. King of Pilchuck who has worked his hoof-healing magic on mini Chip and SAFE alumni Cy (formerly known as Cyrus), among others. When he trimmed back her hoof, a tunnel was revealed that ran the entire length between the tip of her hoof and the section, now about half-way down, where she had ported out her coronet band. He cut away this area, revealing lots of dirt and dead laminae, and then packed the area with betadine gauze to help dry it out.

In another week, he saw Darla again for a scheduled recheck. At this visit, he applied a cast to her hoof to shore up the area and promote healing. Aided by a little bit of dorm gel to keep her from movement during the process, Darla was a perfect angel during the procedure.

At her next recheck a few weeks later, Dr. King had us trot her out to evaluate where she was at, lameness wise. While there was certainly some improvement, even with the cast on, Darla still was slightly off. Dr. King attributed this to just the cards she was dealt – she doesn’t naturally have a big, solid foot, so even at her most sound she would always be a little bit lame. He suggested putting her in front shoes as soon as we were able.

At this appointment, he also cut away the cast, revealing that Darla was healing up quite nicely. He gave her a trim, and instructed us to wrap the hoof up during the day to keep it clean.

A mid-post ‘did you know:’ applying epsom salt poultice or another type of poultice within the context of a duct tape boot is great for drawing and softening, but too long in this environment and the hoof could go too soft. To prevent this, we have been using betadine-soaked gauze to keep the afflicted area clean, and bringing Darla into a stall at night where she can have an unwrapped hoof in a clean, dry environment.

Last week, we had one of our wonderful farriers, Lisa Fite, out to put shoes on our dear Darla. With this piece in place, we may finally have found the end of Darla’s hoof issues… but we’ll still knock on wood, just in case.

During this entire process, Darla has been living a mostly normal life. With the exception of coming into a stall at night, she has been allowed her normal turnout and grass time. Now with the addition of shoes, she is fully back to work.

Thanks to the hard work of so many, Darla is back on her feet, hopefully once and for all!