A recent Christmas holiday season was upon Neville Wright when his preparations for revelry were interrupted with an urgent phone call.
The Bobinawarrah, Australia, farrier’s clients, who had arrived at their country getaway for the holiday, found Chester with a “little bit of a split in his foot.” Jumping into his rig, Wright made his way over to check out the stallion and found not only a split toe but a pretty bad infection with raw tissue exposed (Figure 1).
“You’re supposed to be drinking beer or going to church on Christmas Eve, not stuck with this thing,” Wright told attendees at the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati. “We’ve got to clean this up and we’ve got to support the hoof.”
In the past, Wright had experienced troubles clearing up hoof infections.
“There are times that I don’t believe you can get enough penicillin in a horse to clean up an infection like that,” he says. “It just sort of dissipates before it gets to the foot. We’ve had some horses that are on 40 mL of penicillin a day and all it did was thicken up the pus.”
After exhausting other approved methods, Wright had a Coke and has been smiling ever since.
He found that he could irrigate infected hooves much easier by using a clean plastic Coca-Cola screw-on bottle cap and plastic tubing.
After cleaning and dressing the area (Figure 2), Wright drilled holes in the cap to accommodate the two lengths of tube that he bought at a gardening center. He cautions that you should know the location of where you want your tube ends to be anchored before drilling the holes in the cap.
“The length of the tubes probably should be 8 to 10 inches as you have to work out where the tube ends will be anchored to the hoof wall,” Wright explains. “This is very important to try and keep the tube sort of front and center for easier access for flushing through. Tube placement is dependent on the injury site. Try to keep the tube as straight as possible. There’s less drama fitting it that way.”
After drilling the holes, Wright placed the two pieces of tube (Figure 3) through the bottle cap and bonded them to the hoof (Figure 4).
“I use Vettec Superfast for the quick set placement of the bottle top,” he says. “Be aware of the heat produced by your bonding material. I might do the whole procedure with Superfast, but it depends on the injury. A lot of times, I’ll do part two with Adhere as it has a lower curing temperature.”
Then, Wright flushed the diseased area with saline (Figure 5).
“We cleared up hoof infections with salt water when 40 mL of penicillin wasn’t working on them,” he says. “You just take a syringe full of salty water in one of those tubes and squirt it through once or twice a day. You can alternate it with iodine.”
Generally, Wright leaves it in place for 7 to 10 days, depending on the severity of the injury.
“If it’s clean after that time, I leave it open for at least 24 hours so that I can visually check that there is no raw tissue to bond over,” he says. “If in doubt, go again with the original procedure. Or, I will place some Hawthorne Sole Pack over the suspect area, then bond over the whole area. That way, if there is some ongoing infection, it has some room to move.”
Although Wright used a Coke bottle cap on Chester, he says larger caps work just as well.
“I’ve used this procedure on infected pedal bones, infected corns and any raw hoof wall injury that you cannot bond over because you will make a volcano out of it if the raw tissue cannot breathe,” he explains. “I have used this procedure on foot abscesses on racehorses, with some winning 14 days after the initial treatment. The outcome’s good. You’ll get ’em right.”