The Fifth Hoof: Reaction to strangles leads to a second hoof capsule on front leg

MEETING OF THE MINDS. Farrier Todd Gillis (in black hat) and equine veterinarian Stephen O’Grady examine photos and discuss potential treatment for the fifth hoof grown by a horse being shod by Gillis.

Strange things can happen anytime, in any corner of the hoof-care world.

Todd Gillis has worked as a farrier for 23 years in the Richfield, Wis., area 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee. He shoes about 325 horses on a regular basis, with more than 85 percent of them located within 20 minutes of his home. And though his work includes therapeutic shoeing for a couple of veterinary clinics, he’d never seen anything that prepared him for a hoof-care case he’s now been working on for nearly 2 years — Beamer, the horse with a second hoof growing on its left front leg.

Beamer’s owner bought the 7-year-old Quarter Horse with no known medical problems early in 2003. In April, Beamer and many of the other 55 horses in the barn developed strangles, a highly contagious respiratory disease.

But Beamer suffered a reaction to the bacteria-borne disease, and a veterinarian diagnosed purpura hemmorhogica in late March 2003. The condition can include fever, muscle soreness and swelling of the body and limbs.

Going Downhill

Treatment did not immediately reduce Beamer’s swelling, which was especially severe in the legs. Gillis watched a “bubble” form on the left front coronary band, and as the swelling worsened, the skin on the legs split and pulled away from the underlying tissue —…

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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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