And the Oscar Goes To…


What do you mean, what Oscar?

The Oscar for Best Abscess.

What?  You never heard of it?  I may be simply an adequate rider, but I am our barn’s resident AQ.   I am The Abscess Queen.  We all have to excel at something…?  (Too bad it’s not riding.)

I lunged Tiny.  I was niggled by a slight unevenness behind in the way he was traveling.  He wasn’t lame, or noticeably off: he was just…wrong.  I called Lilly over.  She said “Oh geeze, he looks okay to me, but you’re better at seeing subtle?  I can see he’s not using himself behind.  What’s catching you?”

“Well first, I might be wrong…what do you think?”, I say, “His right hip doesn’t look like rising and falling evenly, if you look at his hips on a level plane?  His right hind isn’t tracking up all the way?”

We look at each other. Not tracking up could be any number of things, including laziness, but the uneven use of his hips suggests he’s landing funny on that hoof.  We both know what the most likely culprit of  landing funny on that hoof: it hurts.  Sure enough, after taking hoof temperatures, that one is noticeably warmer.

“I’ll get the kettle”, I say.  “Got it covered.”  Lilly returns to Ruby, and continues her warm up.

While the kettle is set to boil with surgical tweezers inside, I get the epsom salts, betadine, diapers, VetWrap, packing goo, duct tape and his draft-sized Davis boot. Tiny is so used the program, he yawns in the cross ties.  To make sure I understand which hoof needs help, he lifts his rear leg high, stares at it, and then looks pointedly at me.  I rub his forehead.  “Got it buddy”, I say.  The leg stays in the air.  He heaves a mighty sigh, and dangles the hoof so it swings a little.  Okay, okay.  I walk over and hold his leg, giving the hoof a cursory look, so he knows I got the message.  Satisfied, he puts the hoof back on the ground.

Tiny may not tell the truth about everything, but he never lies about his feet.  If he holds it in the air to show it to you, he’s got a problem.  I pick his  hoof out and scrub it clean.

Water boils, I pour some into the boot, add epsom salts and betadine, stir to dissolve, and slowly add cold water until it’s still hot, but bearable.  I do this mixing right in the boot.  Because Tiny will let me put a sloshing boot of medicated hot water right on his hoof.  (Standard horse procedure: you put the boot on, and pour the liquid into the boot).   He sighs with relief, and shifts his weight to stand in the water.  I don’t have a lot of hope this will draw it out.  There were no soft spots, and he didn’t react to the hoof tester.  It will probably take a couple of (painful) days for this to come to the surface.  I give him bute.

Next comes our favorite part:  I stuff him with carrots and kiss him on the nose a billion times.

Done. Remove boot, dry hoof with a towel, and press with my fingers.  Nothing.  No soft spots, no tenderness.  Dang.

One of the new boarders comes up.  Looks at Tiny, and all the junk.  She stands for a minute, puzzled.  I expect she’s never seen an abscess before.

Actually, it turns out she’s never seen ME before.

“What happened to your breeches?  Do you need another pair?  I have an extra in my car.  Did they tear?”, she says.

Me?   My breeches?  I look down.  Oh.  Right.

I have six strips of duct tape going horizontally across each of my thighs.  The (red) VetWrap is open, started, and the loose end is tucked into the neck of my T-shirt, the roll end is thumping on my chest as I move.  I have 2 diapers hanging from my waist band like some sort of bizarre attempt at avant guard designer wear.  The unused duct tape, still on the roll, is around my wrist like a bracelet.

To me, I’m set and ready to pack and wrap that hoof in 60 seconds or under.

To her, I look like I just walked out of The House of Hoarders: newspapers stacked to the ceiling with narrow walkway tunnels.  Quite possibly I left 17 cats inside licking clean an entire room full of used cat food cans.  My breeches are held together with duct tape, and I seem to have stuck VetWrap to my chest for some reason.  I can think of no possible scenarios in which open diapers hanging off  my hips makes sense.  And of course, I was just upside down: standing up to talk made my hair poof out to fright wig status.  BIG hair.

“Uh, no, my breeches are fine, thanks…” I say, “See…Tiny has this…”

She sees her trainer.  “Okay” she interrupts., “just checking…there’s my trainer!”  and off she goes.  Like a shot.

Later, after the boarder left,  her trainer, who must have heard all about the crazy person dancing around the big horse, came up, patted Tiny, squeezed my shoulder just as I finished applying the last layer of duct tape, and said “Another abscess, huh?”  I could tell she’d explained the situation to her student.  “Nope”, I said, “fashion statement!”

We both doubled over laughing, gasping and choking, and I tore off a square of duct tape and slapped it on her breeches.  This made her wrestle the duct tape away from me, and tear off a square and slap it on my breeches.

Duct Tape Tag!

I am so ready for the red carpet.

12 thoughts on “And the Oscar Goes To…

  1. Obviously you don’t watch Project Runway…..THEY could make an Oscar dress out of diapers. Come on Jane, I know you’re more creative than that!!

    1. uh-oh.
      The insane part of my brain thinks it would be brilliant to respond by making an Oscar dress. Limited to materials one would find at the barn.

      We may have a problem. It’s excited. And the sane part of my brain is bored. Michelle! Now look what you’ve done!!

  2. You definitely have my nomination.

    I’m thinking your oscar dress should show tribute to your work. Vet wrap headband? Duct tape belt? Diaper…..umm…….hmmmmm……..

    1. ROFLOL. I had the same disconcertion on the diapers. I decided diapers would make an interesting, uh, hat if done correctly.

      I’m thinking the whole dress should be duct tape (with lining – not on skin!) with VetWrap accents.

      An avant guard necklace of surgical tweezers.
      Makeup courtesy of Betadine….

  3. LOL. I love this image of you just as much as the one where you and Christmas ended up covered in powdered sugar. Or the one where you were shouting epithets at the intruders on your roof in your pajamas. Or the one. . . . Oh okay, I’ll stop.

    Btw, now I know for SURE that we were meant to be friends. I am known as the foot-wrapping expert around my neck of the woods — I have a fool-proof never fail duct tape method that keeps hoof wraps on no matter what, doesn’t put pressure on the coronet band, and which a horse cannot remove. (Abscess Queen, meet Duct Tape Hero). I think I might have to do a post about this. . . .

  4. Dear Jane,

    You know, everyone blithely says “oh, use diapers for an abscess.”

    O rly?

    I can vet-wrap a hoof six weeks until Sunday, and that vet-wrap and whatever I pack in it will not move.

    But no matter what I do with the darn diapers, the horse (any horse) looks at me incredulously and lifts their foot right out of it. Or, if I’ve been unusually efficient, has to kick out once or twice to remove the diaper.

    So tell me — please! — how you get the diapers to stay on for any useful period of time. Because I just. don’t. get it.


    I never babysat kids who wore diapers and it shows

    1. Perfect!
      I’ll see if I can do a step by step in photos in a post.

      That should be interesting: can I manage the camera, the equipment, the hoof etc etc.

      One thing people do forget to tell you is to get diapers the right size, and buy the expensive ones. (Huggies, cough cough)

      It will hold the packing in, but more importantly, it can provide padding for a sore hoof, and keep the bottom of the hoof dry. Tiny has white line disease, so a dry hoof is a good hoof.

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