Hoof Abscess

A Hoof Abscess Is Very Painful For A Horse

Hoof abscess

A horse hoof abscess is caused by the infiltration of bacteria into the sensitive structures of the foot. They are most of the time accompanied by a deformed hoof capsule that causes bruising of the sensitive tissues or damage to the white line.

An abscess is a normal process that should not be interrupted by antibiotics or anti-inflammatories unless your vet prescribes them.

Acute abscesses develop very quickly and the horse can be severely lame. The pressure from the abscess on the sensitive structures is responsible for the pain.

You should do everything to get the abscess to erupt naturally (see below). There might be an elevated digital pulse and heat in the foot. The horse can also have a raised temperature.

Abscesses can break at the coronary band or on the sole. If they break at the coronary band you will see a horizontal line that will grow down with the hoof wall.

Chronic abscesses form slowly and the lameness is usually not as severe. They are often caused by bruising of the sole and can form a so called sub-solar abscess. You often find a cavity in the sole as evidence. Black spots in the bars or sole can also be seen. These type of abscesses often erupt at the heel bulb as in the picture above. This shows an old abscess that is growing out. The discharge is usually grey and very smelly.


Your hoof care provider should clean and trim the foot and check with hoof testers for the location of the abscess.

Use an Animalintex Pad with warm water and wrap the whole foot including the coronary band. Use a vet wrap bandage to keep it in place. Leave it on over night.

If the abscess did not break use a Sole Mate Pad and hand walk the horse for 10 minutes twice a day. Repeat the Animalintex Pad overnight again if necessary.

Once the abscess has drained soak the foot with Cleantrax as soon as possible to clean out the abscess track. Follow up with Silvetrasol. If there is a big hole use a bit of cotton wool spayed with the hoof disinfectant spray and plug the hole. Change regularly until the hole is grown out.

Trying to open up abscesses is not recommended. Most of the time a lot structure is damaged without finding the abscess.

A balanced healthy foot is the best prevention. Also homeopathic treatment might help to speed up the draining process and to stop the ongoing inflammation.

Reference:KC La Pierre: The Chosen Road. Naked Greyhound Press 2004

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