How to Pop a Gravel on an Equine

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A gravel is an infection that starts at the bottom of the foot. The infection works its way up between the white line and the hoof wall to the top of hoof, bursting at the coronary band. It can take a few days to a few weeks for the infection to work its way through the hoof. The whole process is very painful and the horse will become very lame. Many times people believe that the horse has injured itself much more than just a having a gravel because there is heat and swelling. The tell-tale sign that it is a gravel or abscess is that there will be a digital pulse.

Things You'll Need

  • Large shallow basin
  • Warm water
  • Epsom salt
  • Ichthammol
  • Gloves
  • Cotton sheets
  • Feed bag
  • Duct tape
  • Clean your horse's foot with a hoof pick. Be sure to get out all of the dirt, manure and rocks.

  • Fill a basin 3/4 full with warm water and then add enough Epsom salt to cover the bottom of the basin. Soak your horse's foot in the water for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how well it will stand in the water for you.

  • Look over your horse's foot once you have soaked it. With a gravel you will notice a soft pinkish area start to form around the coronary band or on the heel. This is where the gravel will pop, and where you should focus your treatment. It may take a couple of days of soaking to notice this.

  • Dry off the hoof really well. Then place within your reach the corner of a feed bag cut out, ichthammol, cotton sheets and several strips of duct tape. Make sure the corner of the feed bag you cut will be large enough to wrap over the entire foot, and up the pastern. Also make the duct tape strips large enough that you can tape all the way around the horse's foot.

  • Coat the coronary band and heel bulb with icthamol. Use gloves when doing this. Then place the cotton sheets over the ichthammol as a cushion.

  • Slip the feed bag over the hoof, placing the toe into the corner of the bag first. Then let the horse put its foot down and adjust. Pull the feed bag up and around the hoof to the pastern and tape it closed to form a boot. Do not tape it too tightly; doing so will constrict blood flow.

  • Tape the whole underneath of the hoof, and especially the toe, to keep the horse from ripping through the feed bag. Then wrap your horse's leg with a quilt and standing wrap to prevent swelling.

  • Do these steps on a daily basis, and soon the festering gravel will pop out. While doing this, your horse needs to stay on stall rest, and not be used in exercise.

Tips & Warnings

  • Talk with your farrier about any suggestions he might have.
  • Get ichthammol from a feed store, veterinarian or farrier.
  • Some horses do not like having their feet soaked. Be very careful the first time you do this.

References

  • Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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