How to Deal With Abscesses

June 19, 2018

Abscesses in a horse’s hoof are every horse owner’s worst nightmare. They can be the cause of the lameness that keeps a horse owner home for the weekend instead of heading off to a show or event. Hoof abscesses can cause an endless cycle of soaking and wrapping, soaking and wrapping – did we mention soaking and wrapping?


To understand how to treat an abscess, one must first understand what an abscess is. A general definition of an abscess in a horse is a

“localized accumulation of pus in a horse’s hoof”, according to The Horse. It can be similar to a human pimple. The horse can feel pain in that area before the abscess actually surfaces. Some horses may never show lameness before the abscess ruptures, but some horses may show extreme lameness before the abscess ever ruptures. If the abscess doesn’t rupture on its own, a farrier might need to be called to “pop” the abscess.

Treating an abscess can be simple, but requires consistent attention for a longer period of time. The goal is to open up the abscess in the hoof and let it drain. If the abscess is not drained, it can travel up to the coronary band or to the heel bulbs to pop through thinner hoof walls easier. To encourage the abscess to drain, soak the hoof in warm water with Epsom salts. A boot made for soaking the hoof can be used as well. Another option is to use a small rubber feed pan. If you are using a rubber bucket it is going to be able to bend if it is stepped on and the lower bowls will be easier to get the horses hoof into the bucket. Make sure that the water is deep enough to cover the location of the abscess.


After soaking the hoof, use a sugar-iodine paste to draw out the abscess. Apply the sugar-iodine paste to the area where the abscess is located. Wrapping the hoof in a clean diaper with duct tape can help keep the abscess area clean. Gauze, vet wrap or other similar wraps for horses can be utilizes as well. Remember, if there is prolonged lameness make sure to call a veterinarian or farrier. They will have to drain the abscess by “popping” it.


SmartPak has a great video on hoof abscess to learn more; Follow the link below to view a YouTube video filmed by SmartPak.





Thank you to the following sites:


The Horse, By Christy M. West, June 14, 2018



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