Everyday Horse Training: Gideon’s Abcess

Ginny called from feeding the horses tonight with news that Gideon was three-legged lame. Mark and I layered up and headed out to the pasture. A quick onceover and a careful feel revealed the most likely diagnosis of lameness– and revealed a great training opportunity.No heat or sign of injury in the affected pony’s leg. Heat around the coronet band, while the coronet band on his other hoof was cold to the touch. The sudden onset of acute lameness. My guess is an abcess was brewing from bruising on the icy ground.

Thank God it was just an abcess– it’s always disconcerting to see a pony in such pain! (Click here for a free article on equine abcess).

An abcess always means epsom salt soaks, and I knew I was in for a challenge. When Gideon first arrived on the farm he was pretty well behaved…except for his feet. He was petrified of “giving up” his hooves, particularly on his right side. This normally quiet pony would fight like a tiger when you tried to handle his hooves.

Naturally, he had improved immensely with consistent training on the issue. I still did not relish asking him to stand still with his foot in a rubber tub for 20 minutes on end!

I had a choice. I could view the soaking the abcess as drudergy, or I could frame it as a valuable, “real-life” training experience.

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