Using Digital Thermography For Diagnosing And Pinpointing Abscesses

With a little experience, locating hoof and leg injuries can be quick and easy

We are all familiar with the use of hoof testers in the diagnosis of abscesses within the hoof capsule. However, take a moment to digest exactly what we do with our hoof testers and why they work. Hoof testers are based on the principle of leverage to create a great amount of force on a small area. The resultant response helps to pinpoint where the horse is showing more pain and hence, the possible location of an abscess.

Imagine for a moment that you hit your thumb with your driving hammer. Now, your thumb is throbbing, but you can’t see a blood blister forming. Would you be agreeable to squeezing your thumb with a pair of pliers to locate the relative origin of your pain? Probably not!

So why do farriers routinely use hoof testers to locate the source of an abscess? Have you ever noticed that after examining a horse with hoof testers, the animal’s behavior tends to deteriorate? Your search for an abscess has unwittingly caused the horse undue pain and suffering.

Until recently, there were few options. First, of course, were the traditional hoof testers. I have always joked that, with my particular set of hoof testers, I could cause a pain response in any horse. Second, was basically fishing around blindly in the hoof capsule, hoping to find any sign of pus. How many times have you seen a horse on which a veterinarian had already performed a hoof tester exam? How many of those times…

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Nicholas denson 2019

Nicholas B Denson

Nicholas B. Denson is a Sagamore Beach, Mass., farrier specializing in therapeutic and performance hoof-care.

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