You had a great day with your horse yesterday – everything clicked in your lesson, and you come to the barn excited for your next ride to continue the progression. You pull your horse out of his stall, and oh no, he’s dead lame. Your mind instantly flashes to the worst-case scenario. How did he break his leg? But careful inspection puts your mind at ease when you find the much less severe yet far more common reason for lameness – a hoof abscess.
One in three horses gets a hoof abscess each year. At first sight, it can be a rather alarming condition. But careful treatment will have your horse back to normal, perhaps even faster than you think. Hoof abscesses can occur more frequently due to weather changes. Very wet conditions cause more bacteria to grow, or dry conditions lead to cracked hoofs allowing in bacteria. The first course of action is to have your vet or farrier check it out, at which point they will likely “dig out” the abscess to allow it to drain. This provides instant relief of pressure and pain for your horse. Some abscesses may rupture on their own, or some may need a little more convincing before your vet or farrier can open them up. Either way, you will be soaking and wrapping that foot for at least the next few days as the infection subsides. The following products will help smooth the process for you and your horse!
Step 1: Soak It
The first thing to do for an abscess, whether it is draining or not yet open, is soak the affected hoof. The Hoof Wraps Soaker Kit from MacKinnon Products will spare you the mess that often occurs while asking your horse to stand quietly with his foot in a bucket of water. This kit contains a collapsible boot made of nylon that you put on your horse like a sock. It has a foam pad on the bottom so your horse is comfortable and they may even experience additional temporary relief from the abscess. Simply fill it with the desired amount of water, slip it onto your horse’s leg, and fasten it closed with the Velcro straps. Then you can continue the rest of your chores while your horse waits!
Epsom Salt has long been the trusted addition to any hoof soak. The magnesium sulfate provides inflammation relief as well as antimicrobial benefits. Add this to the water in your soaker kit to help draw out the abscess.
Step 2: Pack It
After you soak your horse’s foot, you will need to pack it for a few reasons. First, it will help keep the area free of debris that could lead to a worsened infection. Second, it will continue to help draw out the abscess, allowing it to drain for faster healing. Third, it will provide inflammation and pain relief for your horse. There are plenty of options for hoof packs, each of which prioritizes a different one of these benefits. Your vet or farrier may recognize a need for one more than the other, so keep that in mind when choosing your ammo.
Animalintex Poultice Hoof Pads are a customer favorite for abscess treatment. These pads are conveniently shaped to fit the bottom of the hoof and are a no-mess solution for hoof pack. Simply soak the pad briefly in warm water, then place it onto the bottom of your horse’s hoof with the plastic side away from the foot. Follow up with a wrap to secure the pad in place, and done! Consider this poultice pad for an abscess that has not yet ruptured or is too deep to be dug out. It will soften the sole of the hoof, allowing the abscess to work its way out.
Epsom Salt Poultice is another common choice for a hoof pack agent. Like the Animalintex Poultice Pads, this will help drain and dry out the abscess. The Epsom salt will further provide relief from soreness. It is also a great option if your horse protests the Epsom Salt soak, so you don’t have to relinquish those benefits with a spilled hoof soaking session.
When you hear the term “hoof pack” you might think of the sticky stuff, not the poultices. Hoof packs were developed specifically for sore feet due to bruises, abscesses, and more. While it can be a bit messier than a poultice pad, a traditional hoof pack contains ingredients specifically put together to help treat your horse’s symptoms. While also killing bacteria and providing pain relief, hoof packs will encourage a rebalanced moisture content to your horse’s hoof to both help heal and prevent an abscess in the future.
Rebound Hoof Pack is a very sticky formula intended to help simplify the hoof packing process. Wet your hand (or glove) and apply a handful of this all-natural formula to the sole of your horse’s foot. Be sure to pack it into all the crevices. Here’s the best part – if your horse has shoes, you can stop there! Dust a layer of shavings over the top of the packing to seal it and avoid a sticky mess on your barn floor, but no other wrapping is necessary. If your horse is barefoot, wrap it to ensure the packing stays in place. If you are more of a visual learner, check out our video here.
Magic Cushion Xtreme is a great option when fast or intense pain relief is needed. It provides an even higher level of antibacterial and pain relief and also can be used with or without a wrap. Magic Cushion can be applied similarly to Rebound, and you can see another video on how to use it here.
Step 3: Wrap It
If you are using a poultice pack or if your horse is barefoot, you will need to finish off with a wrap. This secures your treatment in place and keeps any debris or bacteria away from the infection site. You may be familiar with the diaper or vet wrap and duct tape methods, but did you know a few more simple options are available?
Pack N Stick Hoof Tape from Equifit is pre-cut tape to shape around your horse’s foot. It will securely stick to the sole and wall of the foot, keeping your packing in place!
The Deluxe Equine Slipper from Bluegrass Equine Products is another simplified option for hoof wrapping. This reusable boot has a durable leather sole and is made from strong yet breathable Cordura material. The adjustable Velcro straps allow for a customized fit without causing chafing or irritation to the pastern. This slipper is the new essential you didn’t know your tack trunk was missing!
You can shop all the hoof packs and abscess treatments available at FarmVet HERE. Or, you can shop all our products at FarmVet.com 24/7. You can also call one of our friendly Sales Associates at 1-888-837-3626 or email your order to email@example.com.
The first step to fast healing or avoiding abscesses altogether is maintaining healthy hooves. Read our blog HERE for tips on keeping your horse’s hooves in top condition!
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