Posted by Sally on 9/3/2015, 2:30 pm, in reply to "trim frog or not?"
You mentioned that your barefoot horses have very flat soles. That has nothing to do with frog trimming. In fact, with flat soles you want to preserve those frogs as much as possible. That doesn't necessarily mean no frog trimming, however. I like to trim any excess flaps along the sides that trap dirt/manure in the collateral grooves. It is also important to check the central sulcus of the frog on every hoof. The central sulcus of the frog is the groove that runs from the heels about 2/3 of the way towards the frog apex. |
The first thing that I do after picking out the feet is probe the central sulcus with my hoof pick. Some frogs have a deeper sulcus than others, but it shouldn't be much deeper than 5/8". The sulcus should not have any "gunk" in there or have a bad smell. You should be able to put pressure on the inserted hoof pick without the horse flinching or pulling it's foot away. If the horse reacts to pressure on the hoof pick and/or there is smelly, dark "gunk" in the sulcus, you have an infection in that frog. It can cause a horse to land toe first and even cause lameness. I have seen more than one horse diagnosed "navicular" that really just had chronic thrush in the central sulcus. Many of these horses probably had it for years, but since nobody looked for it and it wasn't obvious when looking at the frog, it went untreated. In one case I worked on my hoof pick went into the central sulcus over an inch deep and I didn't hit bottom! That horse needed to be treated with antibiotics, but once the infection was cleared up he was sound.
While your farrier/trimmer should be checking the central sulcus of each frog during a trim, it is also the ***OWNER'S*** responsibility to check and clean that area with a hoof pick every time the feet are picked out. Feet should be checked and picked out once a day and at the very *least* once a week for horses living out in dry pasture. It's easy for a horse to get a rock or piece of wood lodged in the frog. I have found fence clips and nails stuck in feet during routine trimming appointments and the owners were oblivious that anything was wrong until I pointed it out. I show every one of my clients how to check the central sulcus and how to treat the area if any thrush is present. That is part of basic horse care, but most books and articles written for horse owners never mention it.
Back to frog trimming, if the frog tends to grow over the central sulcus I will definitely trim away enough tissue to open that area up. I use a special small loop knife for doing this, but any good, sharp hoof knife with a narrow end will work. If I find any infection I like to use a curved tipped irrigating syringe to clean it out. I love Equine Elite antimicrobial spray for irrigating, but any gentle antimicrobial will work in a pinch. The area can be very sensitive, so avoid anything caustic. I have used a lot of different wound creams to treat central sulcus infections in the past, but for run of the mill thrush I have had good results with packing the central sulcus with Magic Cushion hoof packing.
You mentioned that there was a wood splinter in the frog, but not where it was lodged in the frog. Since the central sulcus is one of the most common areas for things to lodge or problems to arise, I am just assuming that is where it was. Years ago when I was finishing my education in AANHCP I did an advanced mentorship with Scott and was very impressed with his meticulousness and professionalism. I learned a lot from Scott that day and hold him in high regard. Did you ask him about your horse's care?