Battling With Abscesses


“I have a 16 year old Appendix Gelding, He is an OHSET/Barrel horse, a big boy, I feed him Grass Hay and Haystack a pelleted timothy, alfalfa. He gets no sweet feeds and I keep him low carb.  I have fed Horse guard for 2 years now, and he also gets tight joints plus.

Last year in April he started being off, showed signs of lameness off and on until September, then fine until February of this year and then blew a huge abscess in March in one hoof then another in April, was fine in May and now is showing signs of wanting to abscess again.  He is barefoot and has been for over 3 years.  He has had the same trimmer all 3 years, He has hard growing hooves and basically healthy except this.  He does ware his heals down for some reason and I think he is bruising easy, ouchy on rocks.  My question is Do you think his Iron consumption is not allowing him to absorb the copper and Zinc he needs? Would His Glucosamine consumption affect his hooves?”

Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella:

Sorry to hear about your horse. Abscesses can be caused by many things, and some horses are more susceptible for some reason or another. The most common time for abscesses is when weather is fluctuating back and forth between wet to dry. Also, bruising causes trauma to the hoof and therefore can lead to abscessing. Usually once a horse has abscessed, they are more prone to abscess again.

When considering his iron consumption, a total feed analysis would need to be done in order to have a definitive answer. However, in my opinion, I don’t think this would be an issue. A common problem in hay is too much iron combined with low zinc and copper levels. The iron in your horse’s ration should be no more than 8 times more than the total zinc in the diet.  When supplementing with Horse Guard, however, we try to offset this common imbalance with 4 times as much zinc than iron. Glucosamine will not negatively affect his hooves.

I would considering adding to Hoof Guard to his feeding program, or switching from Horse Guard and Tight Joints Plus to Trifecta. Either of these products will provide your horse with 32 mg of biotin, in addition to zinc, methionine, and MSM which are crucial for hoof health. By building a stronger, more supple hoof your horse will be able to protect himself from bruising as easily. In addition to the hoof supplement, Trifecta contains a full dose of Horse Guard, a gut supplement, and powerful joint supplement (5000 mg of glucosamine and MSM, and 100 mg of hyaluronic acid). We have 15 head of horses that all receive Trifecta. My good head horse is 19 years old this year and has been roped off of competitively all around the United States since she was 4 years old. This year is first time she has needed any joint injections. I truly believe that all the components of Trifecta are what have allowed her to stay at the top of her game as long as she has with very few trips to the veterinarian.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your horses, and let me know if there are any other questions I can answer.

About Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

Kelsey J. Nonella, Ph.D. is an equine nutritionist who was riding horses before she could walk. Her love for horses drives her to help educate people on what their horses’ needs in order to have happy, healthy horses. Kelsey went to Cal Poly receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and then onto West Texas A&M, where she got her Masters and eventually her Doctorates in Equine Science. At A&M, Dr. Nonella did extensive research on Selenium within horses. Click here to view her research. Kelsey’s colleagues have mentioned her as one of the United States equine Selenium experts.
View all posts by Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

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