Ouch! My Hoof!

Now that Spring is here and the snow is finally melting; it has made my paddock into a muddy disaster! This wet and dirty environment hoof-abscess092010is inconvenient for me, but a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. My equine pal has developed a hoof abscess due to being hock-deep in mud.

An abscess can hurt pretty bad and can cause a horse to be lame. An abscess is a buildup of pus that is meant to fight off infection in the hoof, but since hoof walls are hard and cannot expand to accommodate swelling, a large concentration of pressure forms. Draining at the bottom or sometimes the top of the hoof can relieve this pressure. It’s almost like walking on a huge pimple, gross! For those of you who have ever had a corn or other foot problem, you know how painful sore feet can be. Did you know that horses can develop corns, too??

Corns are caused by traumatic injuries to the sensitive tissues between the sole and the bars in the hoof and causes fluids in build up under the sole. Corns usually occur from improper shoeing, leaving them on for too long, or in my equine pal’s case, a tiny stone got wedged in between his hoof and shoe. OUCH! Regular maintenance, trimming, and proper fitting should help prevent corns.

hoofIf left untreated, corns can become infected and form an abscess. Some people think that since an abscess is an infection, the best course of treatment is antibiotics. However, veterinary experience has shown that antibiotics do not help the situation and can actually slow down the healing process. Many question whether antibiotics circulating in the blood stream can actually travel to the tissues where the abscess is located. The best treatment is plenty of feet soaking in salt water (30 minutes a day for 2 weeks). Think of it as giving your horse a spa day…or week! After soaking, the foot needs to be poulticed and wrapped with a plastic bag and heavy-duty duct tape to keep the poultice where it needed to be to help draw out the pus. Draining the abscess helps relieve the pressure and make the hoof feel soooo much better. The plastic bag also helps keep the hoof out of the mud and away from those nasty bacteria!

Now, you may be thinking, “How do I keep mud off my horses hooves??” Well, lucky for you, my colleague, Laura Kenny is going to talk about that and much more on the “Horses in the Morning” radio show on Wednesday, April 29 at 9:30 a.m. Make sure to mark your calendar!   In the meantime, you can check out some mud management tips here.

Until next time!

Your pal,


Lord Nelson

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