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Need some COTHer "abscess wisdom"!

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  • Need some COTHer "abscess wisdom"!

    My mare has what we (BM and I) THINK is an abscess, absent any evidence to the contrary. Mare is coming 15, has been barefoot for 13 of those 15 years, and has always had phenomenal feet. This would be her first abscess. Ever!

    (Having had TBs with crummy, abscess-prone feet in the past, I am very familiar with abscess protocol , but this is a new one for this horse! As usual, anything is possible with horses...:-/)

    She has been out on field board over the winter (after her foal was weaned in Jan.), and the conditions are fairly muddy--but her feet have been holding up well. She came in *very* off on the left fore Wednesday (I saw her Monday, she was sound), and has been the same degree of lame ever since; hobbling and ouchy, but weight bearing.

    Farrier trimmed her on Wed., foot and sole look fantastic, NO bruising, no soft spots, white line is hard and clean--as is the rest of her foot. No tenderness anywhere.

    No increased digital pulse, no heat. BM thinks (and I tend to agree) that this will be one of those that forms a tract going up and pops out the coronary band--though how any bacteria gained access is a mystery!

    I palpated the coronary band with my thumbs all the way around, and she was reactive to one spot (medially), so methinks that may be where the underlying tract will form.

    BM wants to soak the foot, but according to the most recent wisdom, soaking should be brief and only to clean the solar area and initially draw out the abscess--after which a poultice (Animalintex, Ichtammol, etc.) should be applied, and left on.

    She suggest putting a soaking boot on, then poulticing. I was thinking that wrapping the foot (over the coronary band) with an Animalintex poultice (then duct tape over it) would be best. She is leaving her out, no Bute (she says this slows the inflammatory process, and I would tend to agree--haven't Buted in the past--but the mare has an old healed check ligament injury in the OTHER leg, and I am a bit concerned that she will be stressing this leg excessively while limping around, since the whole damn ordeal will likely take awhile to resolve. She is *not* stoic.)

    I haven't had the "pleasure" of dealing with an abscess that worked its way up and popped out of the coronary band since way back the 70's; any ideas/guesstimates on the usual timetable??

    What think you, great minds of COTH?

    TIA
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

  • #2
    I was in a similar situation. Had horse since he was a yearling, been barefoot for all but 5 months of his life, he has only ever had this one abscess (knock on wood). It was right after an injury that involved stall rest, then limited turnout etc. (but he appeared sound until about 6 weeks into rehab) so I wasn't sure if it was an abscess or if he injured himself more playing in paddock limited turnout. Also, horse fluctuated between probably a grade 1 lame and grade 4 lame. Most days were in the middle. It wasn't what I think of abscess pain, with sudden severe lameness.

    Anyway, the farrier came out and did hoof testers around sole, no flinching. Said he thought horse was still sore from the initial injury injury.

    After about a week and a half of this on and off soreness I took the horse to the vet. Vet palpates the leg and fetlock and pastern and gets no reaction. Then he blocks the foot, lameness improves so it is def in the foot. Pares away at the sole but finds nothing. He thinks it's an abscess, says soak twice a day with epsom salt and wrap the foot with iodide soaked cotton on the sole (if I remember correctly) but I think that step was mostly to address the new holes the vet put in horse's sole while searching for abscess pocket) If no improvement in a few days or a week we will x ray the foot.

    The very next morning horse popped an abscess at the cornet band and was immediately sound

    You asked about a timetable. I think it was about 2 weeks start to finish with my horse's abscess.

    As far as soaking, I don't think it will do any harm to salt soak for 15 minutes twice a day, and it might even help, so might as well do it.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks, fivesocks

      Thank goodness the farrier didn't start paring away the foot on my mare--though that is the most natural thing to do if one "suspects abscess"!

      Though we talked about just applying some Ichtammol, the dang stuff was still too hard to get out of the jar (it's been cold around these parts ), so yesterday the BM put a "poultice boot" on her, consisting of moistened Animalintex wrapped around her coronary band, then Vetrap around the hoof, followed by Elastikon and DuctTape/Gorilla Tape. I expect that this boot will stay on for several days--especially considering that she is out in soft footing (though her pasture is not super muddy right now), by herself, and is NOT going to do a lot of walking around on it. Just enough walking to encourage some circulation to the hoof, which will be good.

      Fingers crossed that this will help soften up the coronary band and draw out the bad stuff, and that a tract will form and the thing will pop out the top--and also that this won't be a prolonged process! Ugh, ten days, huh?

      Aren't abscesses fun?? OTOH, it's always a HUGE relief to discover that it was "just an abscess", so this is what I'm hoping is the case, here
      "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

      "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

      Comment


      • #4
        My horse had two that came up through the coronet band in one year. Two different hoofs. With my guy it took quite a while to travel up on both hoofs. I used animalintex poultice, thermacare wraps, and ichthamol around the coronet band all wrapped with a diaper and duct tape. He was in a lot of pain and could barely walk with the second one. I had to bute him with that one. If you can get them out and moving that is the best thing. The ones coming up through the coronet band are the worse. Good luck and I hope your horse feels better soon!

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by serendipityhunter View Post
          My horse had two that came up through the coronet band in one year. Two different hoofs. With my guy it took quite a while to travel up on both hoofs. I used animalintex poultice, thermacare wraps, and ichthamol around the coronet band all wrapped with a diaper and duct tape. He was in a lot of pain and could barely walk with the second one. I had to bute him with that one. If you can get them out and moving that is the best thing. The ones coming up through the coronet band are the worse. Good luck and I hope your horse feels better soon!
          Thanks, serendipity! I hope her pain level remains below a "4" so that she doesn't over stress the other leg She generally takes very good care of herself and is careful by nature (is an Alpha mare, which is why she is turned out alone), but she is also a sensitive creature, and not very stoic. She will probably not move around much if she is in a lot of pain. I'm hoping we can keep her off Bute until this damn thing resolves...
          "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

          "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

          Comment


          • #6
            No Abscess knowledge ~ praise the horse lord ! Just Jingles for ALL involved !

            No knowledge of abscesses ~ praise the horse lord !

            Just Jingles & AO for ALL involved !

            * but always remember drinking helps ! you did not forget that did you Dr. ?


            ** any young stock for sale today ?!

            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

            Comment


            • #7
              Just dealing with an abscess, myself. My horse is barefoot with great quality feet that never chip or crack, but the mud here IS insane and she lives out. Horse was crippled lame, no heat or pulse in foot, slight filling above pastern. Soaked foot and hosed leg to cover all bases. Thought it was an abscess, but swelling worried me. Trainer talked me out of calling the vet. The next morning, she looked 95% sound and totally sound the day after. Thought maybe she strained something, so was giving her a week off and hoping for the best. A couple days later, she was very lame, again. Called vet, who came the next day. She was less lame, but was way more swollen. Had visions of a terrible suspensory injury. Vet found an abscess and opened it with a pretty small hole, even though he said it was really deep. He said he thought it must have been the result of a puncture. He had me soak and wrap for 5 days and I kept her in, just because of the mud and trying to keep it clean. She appeared sound the next day. I have had great luck, since putting her back out, keeping cotton shoved in the two holes in her foot. The vet found a small pin hole just behind the larger abscess, so she has two openings. I pull out the old cotton, hose the holes, flush them with Betadine, fill with Ichtahmmol, then take a piece of cotton and just keep working it into the hole with a pointed hoof pick, until it is all packed in, then cover it all with more Ichthammol, to try and "glue" it all in. So far, the cotton is staying in and keeping the holes clean for several days at a time, even through riding. It was definitely worth the money(that I didn't have) to get the vet and have it opened. She had one a number of years ago, that another vet let come out on its own that came out the coronary band and the sole, after a couple of weeks of waiting, and in the meantime went subsolar and she lost a chunk of sole at her heel. It was a HUGE mess and she was off for a couple of months. Don't want to go that route, again.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Zu Zu View Post
                No knowledge of abscesses ~ praise the horse lord !

                Just Jingles & AO for ALL involved !

                * but always remember drinking helps ! you did not forget that did you Dr. ?


                ** any young stock for sale today ?!



                Ah, Zuzu...I'm drinking as we speak, actually! Just a glass of Chardonnay, but I was out in the frigid cold all day first volunteering at a Combined Test (for the local Pony Club), then giving a lesson. Had to get in a hot bath after that, then some wine Haven't seen my girls since Friday night because of my schedule, but I texted the BM and she said the wrap she put on on Friday wore through; so she had to re-wrap it today.

                No "young stock" for sale by me today, but "nice try"

                Keep fingers crossed that this abscess (I HOPE it's an abscess!) resolves quickly; we are supposed to get a WHOPPER of a snowstorm this Wed. I hope they are wrong about us being in the bullseye...
                "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by luckeys71 View Post
                  Just dealing with an abscess, myself. My horse is barefoot with great quality feet that never chip or crack, but the mud here IS insane and she lives out. Horse was crippled lame, no heat or pulse in foot, slight filling above pastern. Soaked foot and hosed leg to cover all bases. Thought it was an abscess, but swelling worried me. Trainer talked me out of calling the vet. The next morning, she looked 95% sound and totally sound the day after. Thought maybe she strained something, so was giving her a week off and hoping for the best. A couple days later, she was very lame, again. Called vet, who came the next day. She was less lame, but was way more swollen. Had visions of a terrible suspensory injury. Vet found an abscess and opened it with a pretty small hole, even though he said it was really deep. He said he thought it must have been the result of a puncture. He had me soak and wrap for 5 days and I kept her in, just because of the mud and trying to keep it clean. She appeared sound the next day. I have had great luck, since putting her back out, keeping cotton shoved in the two holes in her foot. The vet found a small pin hole just behind the larger abscess, so she has two openings. I pull out the old cotton, hose the holes, flush them with Betadine, fill with Ichtahmmol, then take a piece of cotton and just keep working it into the hole with a pointed hoof pick, until it is all packed in, then cover it all with more Ichthammol, to try and "glue" it all in. So far, the cotton is staying in and keeping the holes clean for several days at a time, even through riding. It was definitely worth the money(that I didn't have) to get the vet and have it opened. She had one a number of years ago, that another vet let come out on its own that came out the coronary band and the sole, after a couple of weeks of waiting, and in the meantime went subsolar and she lost a chunk of sole at her heel. It was a HUGE mess and she was off for a couple of months. Don't want to go that route, again.
                  Good grief! What an ordeal (though in the case of abscesses, we rarely complain, right??) They DO resolve, eventually...Your poor mare, though--and poor you!

                  I would be amazed if my mare had a puncture wound in her foot, I have had my share of horses with abscesses, including one with a nail puncture to the sole (not recently), and in all those cases the sole is usually compromised in some small way that is discernable after poking and prodding. I wish I could post a pic of the sole of her foot, it is as smooth as a baby's bottom, and hard. Her white line is amazing. (I did buy her, in part, because she had such phenomenal feet!) She is a HUGE drama queen, so considering that the farrier did a good bit of poking and prodding when he trimmed her (with zero reaction), I feel fairly certain that there isn't enough of a "smoking gun"--at least not yet!--for me to want to call the vet out to start paring away.

                  A vet I used years ago when I had my abscess-prone TB (with crappy TB feet, I used to refer to him as "The Abscess King"), was poking and paring away sole during one of these occasions, and I asked, plaintively, "could you please not cut too deep?"

                  His response (he had a sense of humor) was "I'm a doctor, not a miner."

                  I am REALLY hoping that this resolves with the poulticing and the boot; she has to live out, and since I am unable to get out more than a few times a week, the BM is tasked with doing all of the wrapping. Luckily, she is pretty much an abscess expert and does this ALL the time--she has 100 horses in her care--most of them TBs
                  "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                  "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have one in a diaper with ichthamol right now. She came up quite lame, suddenly, yesterday. I don't find any heat or swelling, and I have just fenced and opened a wooded sacrifice area, so she likely stepped on a stump or something in there. I didn't get any reaction on her sole anywhere, but I don't have hoof testers either.

                    I have done bute, and I have done no bute, and mine tend to pop faster with small doses, just enough to keep them walking. The pressure moves the infection and pops it out, I think. I've soaked, but the ichthamol diaper seems to work better (or it's all a coincidence).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just remember that soft tissue damage in the foot is often mistaken for an abcess so I would be sure to keep her a bit quiet until it drains, just in case.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What does your vet say?
                        Janet

                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          She is quiet, is in private T/O and is just walking around a little, not doing much (BM believes that movement is good for hastening the resolution of the abscess, and I am inclined to agree.) She actually seemed less off when I went out to see her today--don't know whether this is good or bad!--but the foot wrap is on good and tight--the BM is a "foot wrapping genius."

                          I haven't called the vet out, ironically my REGULAR vet just left the vet practice, and has forged off on her own (this just happened a few weeks ago, and I found out about it by accident when I called to pay the bill over the phone, yikes!)

                          If I DO call (some) vet out, they will likely dig around in her sole, maybe find nothing, and in the process, put a hole in her foot--which I do NOT want. I would be very surprised if it's not in the foot, since I know my mare from top to bottom and her leg does not seem to be affected (no smoking gun there.) I plan to give it another week and see whether things progress before going in for the expensive full-blown diagnostics, since she seems perfectly comfortable and is not stressed.

                          (Obviously if it does NOT resolve within a reasonable time period, I will need to delve further, but we are not quite there. Yet. Oy...GO ABSCESS!)
                          "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                          "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The suggestion I have to is to have a vet out today. I know an abscess isn't a life threatening emergency; but they can be extremely painful and stress the other leg.

                            And we've got a storm coming that may dump up to a foot of snow starting tonight into tomorrow. So the residents of that county will all decide, en masse, to drive in the snow to get a gallon of milk.

                            It's a really bad time for her hoof to go south.

                            Which is why I'd suggest getting some help now, rather than letting this fester for x number of days with a storm coming. Especially since the BO/BM is going to have her hands full taking care of the herd and barn with this storm.

                            I've made poultices to help draw an abscess - that seems to work better than soaking. But I've also had a horse with such a bad abscess that the vet was necessary and so were antibiotics.

                            If I sound wishy washy it's because I am - while I understand the desire not to have a hole in the hoof - it's only temporary, the pressure and pain is relieved almost immediately, and a simple boot or wrap will keep the hoof clean and dry while it drains. Then it's all over and you don't have to worry about an increasingly lame horse in the middle of a freak snowstorm.

                            Good luck. I dealt with hoof abscesses from hell this winter and it was about as much fun as a heart attack.
                            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                            -Rudyard Kipling

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JSwan View Post
                              The suggestion I have to is to have a vet out today. I know an abscess isn't a life threatening emergency;
                              How do you know this?

                              I've made poultices to help draw an abscess - that seems to work better than soaking. But I've also had a horse with such a bad abscess that the vet was necessary and so were antibiotics.
                              And without antibiotics would the sepsis have been life threatening? Seems you have at least one experience that is contradictory to what you know.

                              If I sound wishy washy it's because I am
                              Maybe after "diagnosing and treating" a few dozen abscess that turn septic and result in irreparable bone damage or require $thousands in surgical intervention to save the horse and very likely expensive specialty shoeing for the rest of the horses life as a pasture ornament you will have a different opinion and less confidence in offering advice on treatment.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post
                                She is quiet, is in private T/O and is just walking around a little, not doing much (BM believes that movement is good for hastening the resolution of the abscess, and I am inclined to agree.) She actually seemed less off when I went out to see her today--don't know whether this is good or bad!--but the foot wrap is on good and tight--the BM is a "foot wrapping genius."

                                I haven't called the vet out, ironically my REGULAR vet just left the vet practice, and has forged off on her own (this just happened a few weeks ago, and I found out about it by accident when I called to pay the bill over the phone, yikes!)

                                If I DO call (some) vet out, they will likely dig around in her sole, maybe find nothing, and in the process, put a hole in her foot--which I do NOT want. I would be very surprised if it's not in the foot, since I know my mare from top to bottom and her leg does not seem to be affected (no smoking gun there.) I plan to give it another week and see whether things progress before going in for the expensive full-blown diagnostics, since she seems perfectly comfortable and is not stressed.

                                (Obviously if it does NOT resolve within a reasonable time period, I will need to delve further, but we are not quite there. Yet. Oy...GO ABSCESS!)
                                I was concerned after my vet thinned my horse's sole (around the toe) and dug a small hole in one or two spots (including one with a tiny bit of blood), that horse might be tender, but the day the abscess popped horse was walking soundly on gravel again...didn't seem to notice the weaker section of sole at all.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Tom Bloomer - What is your normal protocol for abcesses?
                                  The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!
                                  https://www.facebook.com/groups/equinewellness/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Good God, Tom. Get over yourself.

                                    I told her to get the fricking vet out because she doesn't seem inclined to - and that's a bad idea. An abscess is usually NOT a life threatening emergency and you damn well know that.

                                    You also damn well know that if a horse owner sits on her ass any minor problem can get a lot worse. That's hardly earth shattering news.

                                    Which is why I politely suggested she get the damn vet out since we're about to get a major snowstorm. Because unless someone knowledgeable actually SEES the animal and diagnoses it properly no one actually KNOWS. And the time to discover it isn't a simple abscess but something far worse is not at 2am in the middle of a frickin' blizzard.

                                    Next time go off on the frickin' owner sitting on her ass and asking internet advice- not the person biting her tongue and doing her best to be polite in suggesting she get the frickin' vet out. What do you expect people to do? If you point out the obvious posters just call you a mean poopy head for using harsh language.

                                    Sleet and ice in Blacksburg as we speak. Moving its way northeast. And a lame horse in the barn. Doubtful a vet can get out there until late Thursday or Friday maybe - depending on the roads.

                                    If this was my horse the vet would have been out already.

                                    Next time read and understand the entire post instead of quoting selectively.
                                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                    -Rudyard Kipling

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Wow.

                                      REALLY??

                                      This makes me sad, since I have been reading the trainwreck thread on Off Course about the "pee in the arena", and have been holding my own tongue (as I usually do on here, discretion being the better part of valor, and all), because everything that I was *thinking* was already being expressed by other posters--as well or better than I would have been able to express it. I always try to think before I post, and ask myself: "do I know this poster?", "is this helpful?", or "is it adding to the discussion?", or "is it pertinent?", or "is it fair and reasonable?" Especially "did I READ for content before posting?" When fellow COTHers are simply asking innocent questions and looking for help and input, there is no reason for gratuitous nastiness. (The OP on the thread I mentioned, for example.)

                                      JSwan, when T.B. responded to your post with such vitriol and contempt, my first response was and the second was , ON YOUR BEHALF, because HE was being an ASS. (OTOH, this is fairly typical of him, IME...)

                                      You seem like a competent and responsible horseperson (at least from what I know of you on COTH), so I appreciate your input.

                                      I assure you, I am not being "cavalier" about the care of my horse, never have been, never will be--but then again--you don't know me, so might possible "assume" this?? (but you know what they say about assuming...)

                                      My mare is being kept in a stall during this snowstorm, and the BM will be keeping a close eye on her, I am in contact with her daily. She will be checking on her (and replacing the poultice wrap as needed), and will be touching base with me. I live an hour away from this barn (unfortunately ), so it's not an easy thing for me to go out every day to check on her, though I am out there as often as I can be.

                                      She is actually LESS "off" (read the above post) than she was several days ago; not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing, but she is not uncomfortable--as of yesterday--and I palpated her leg from top to bottom, stretched her out, walked her around, and generally did an overall "checklist of things that could possibly be wrong" (non hoof-related), though of course I don't have an ultrasound machine.

                                      The foot was wrapped in the poultice boot, so I wasn't able to inspect it.

                                      I am keeping as close an eye on the situation as I am able to, and will call the vet if this doesn't resolve itself within a reasonable period of time (no need, IMO, to get the vet out YET when the evidence points to abscess, and when the horse will be in a stall, and being checked on regularly.) I trust my BM's competence, though she is of course not a substitute for a vet.

                                      PLEASE do not take out your righteous indignation at Tom on me, if you would.

                                      I promise you, I am NOT "sitting on my ass" and refusing to call the vet. The vet will be called when appropriate. "Fricking owner"?, WAY over the top.

                                      (My other "vocation/avocation" is as a dog trainer, and FWIW, I love Patricia McConnell's work; her writing, her philosophy and her idealogy. Though your post leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, how regrettable.)
                                      "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                                      "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post
                                        PLEASE do not take out your righteous indignation at Tom on me, if you would.

                                        I promise you, I am NOT "sitting on my ass" and refusing to call the vet. The vet will be called when appropriate.
                                        )
                                        I did not intend to take anything out on you. I know your posts and your horsemanship from way back. My only concern was having a lame horse with a snowstorm on the way - and the possibility that this got worse, fast, and no vet available.

                                        But I am sure we are watching the same forecasts so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

                                        Around here it seems this has been a bad winter for abscesses ; judging by how busy my vet and farrier have been. None of the horses have died from lingering, horrible, devastating bone destroying infections. I'm sure horses do die of such things. I doubt your horse will. None of mine have.

                                        But generally an abscess is found, treated, and the horse manages to survive in order to think of new and interesting ways to commit suicide.

                                        In the end, you're the one with the lame horse. Not me - my advice was only intended to be helpful and supportive, not to be used a substitute for veterinary advice, and I know you took it in the spirit intended. I was trying to be polite - because I am often accused of being mean. Perhaps that is a fair assessment though I never intend to be mean - only forthright. To me, attempting to draw an abscess seems reasonable. Waiting when a storm is coming - well - I'd err on having the vet out now. But I live in a rural area where roads can remain unplowed for days.

                                        If Tom wants to freak out at someone he should be taking you to task (arguably)- not me. I already dealt with the abscesses from hell this winter; which included ankle deep mud, two vet visits, a Davis boot that was so tight I almost burst a blood vessel from taking it on and off, a horse that had to poop, narrowly missing my head, when I was trying to wrap his foot, and my hands were stained by iodine.

                                        I paid my dues.

                                        ETA - I do apologize if my words offended you - as no personal offense was intended. We differ on when we'd each call a vet but I have no doubt your horse is being well looked after. How you'd convince Tom of that fact I have no idea.
                                        Last edited by JSwan; Mar. 5, 2013, 09:36 PM.
                                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                        -Rudyard Kipling

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