Thursday morning, I arrived at the barn to tack up for a riding lesson, only to discover an injury just above my horse's left hind hoof. There is some scar tissue through the coronet band there from an accident when he was a yearling, and it was extremely swollen and distended, with an inch-long split right along the top of the hoof. The picture above was taken when the wound was fresh, after I had cleaned it out and cold hosed it.
I called the vet, and he came out the next day -- he said it wasn't something he needed to come out right away for, and I appreciate that, since he probably saved me a hefty emergency call charge. In the meantime, I was to hose it down a couple of times. (I actually cleaned it out with Betadine, too.) Needless to say, my lesson was canceled that day.
By the time the vet came the following afternoon, the majority of the swelling had gone down, and as a result the split didn't look as deep. We had a couple of theories about how it happened, whether he'd bumped it or whether it was an abscess that had popped out the top of the hoof, but the vet said it wasn't an abscess, since he hadn't been lame at all, and since an abscess would likely go to either side of the scar instead of popping out through it. The vet thinks he bumped it and the scar tissue split, since scar tissue is more inflexible and therefore more likely to do so. (I've run into that before, when Panama got kicked on an old scar when he was 3, and it opened up a huge split on his leg right along the line of the scar.)
The good news was that the vet didn't think the injury would interfere much with riding. He said it would only be sore another couple of days, and then it shouldn't bother Panama at all. I do have to keep it bandaged and covered with a bell boot, however, mostly to keep him from bumping it and slowing down the healing process and/or making it worse. As it is, the vet expects that it's going to take a long time -- about 3 weeks -- to heal, since it's hoof on one side and scar tissue on the other, and scar tissue heals more slowly.
I lucked out that the injury won't impact my riding habits very much (I still plan to take it pretty easy), but it's a reminder about how having horses -- pets in general, but especially horses -- can mean a surprise vet bill at any time!