Monday, December 07, 2009

Sugar Foot

It was shoeing day today...well, not actually shoeing because most of my horses are barefoot. Our footing here is quite nice for horses being sand and dirt for the most part. My farriers are two young men who learned their trade from my old farrier, who while he isn't so aged himself has had to retire due to brain cancer. A number of Omar's clients banded together a few years ago to arrange to have him trained by visiting farriers, so Shaban and Abdel Halim have a real advantage.

Currently I have a friend from Canada staying with me who has been working with vets and farriers for years, so Paddi offered to help out with the boys to work on their barefoot trimming. In the process, we found that one of my three year olds, a sweet chestnut mare, had an abscess in her left hind foot. Paddi directed Abdel Halim to cut down to the edge of the abscess and then had us prepare a thick mixture of white sugar and betadine to draw out the infection. This gooey concoction was slathered on the bottom of the foot over the abscess, which was already starting to drain, and then a thick cotton pad was placed over the entire sticky mess.

Prior to putting on the betadine/sugar mix, Paddi had made up a patch made up of strips of the horseman's best friend, duct tape, which she had stuck to her jeans. This was then pulled off the jeans and slapped onto the cotton to hold it in place and to protect it while the mare walked around.

The duct tape should protect the cotton padding on the bottom of the foot and the cotton padding puts pressure on the abscess encouraging it to drain. The betadine and sugar mixture is an antimicrobial addition. Sugar isn't usually thought of in terms of fighting germs, but the entired concept of jams and preserves is based on the fact that sugar draws all of the moisture out of any invading organisms keeping the fruit fresh. If you ever look at a very old jar of jam in the fridge, the only place you will see mold is at the very edges of the mix where the sugar is most dilute.

After the patch was installed over the cotton padding, duct tape was wound around the hoof to keep it in place and to provide another layer of protection. Once the foot was deemed to be sufficiently bandaged, the mare carefully placed it on the ground and walked rather gingerly in her new silver footwear to the paddock. Tomorrow we will change the bandages and inspect the abscess to see how the drainage is progressing. Amazing, the uses of sugar these days!

copyright 2009 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani


Connie said...

So sorry for your horse! Hope she is better soon. I enjoyed learning about her treatment - how very interesting! I'd heard of using honey on wounds, but not so much about sugar. I read a book many years ago, called "Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels: The Science Behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales" it was a fascinating read.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

It's the same principle but white sugar makes a better paste with a liquid like betadine than honey does. Of course in the old days they didn't have white sugar.

Merri said...

an old horseman at the racetrack once told me - when I got a nasty splinter up my fingernail, too painful to try to dig out - to mix up a bit of liquid soap with sugar and put a poultice on it. I can't remember if it worked, but it would make sense if it did.
So how did the mare's abscess turn out?
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

We only had to change it only once and the foot was fine. Amazing poultice.