For Love of the Horse

Abscesses

Hoof abscessing is one of the most painful ailments for our horses.  When your horse suffers from chronic abscessing, it is important to do all you can to determine the cause.

There are several reasons that a horse may have frequent or chronic abscesses.

  • Introduction of a foreign body or penetrating wound
  • A misplaced nail from a shoe that is too close to the laminae
  • Trauma to the sensitive layers of the foot (bruises)
  • Laminitis or systemic infections
  • Heel contraction, Poor hoof balance or trimming (wall flares)
  • Navicular
  • Weather conditions (going from dry to wet)
  • Keratoma, Pedal Osteitis, or Osteomyelitis

    The visible results of an abscess at the coronary band as the hoof wall grows out.

    The visible results of an abscess at the coronary band as the hoof wall grows out.

Anything that weakens the hoof wall or the sole can make it easier for bacteria to invade internal hoof structures.  Maintaining a regular trimming schedule and keeping your horses hooves in shape will lessen the chances of an abscess, but if your horse presents frequent abscesses, it would be wise to try and determine the cause.  Abscessing can cause permanent damage to the bones within the hoof if they continue to be plagued with constant infection.

Osteomyelitis (an infectious inflammatory bone disease that causes bone tissue death and degeneration), for example, can cause chronic abscessing.  Just when you think it’s over, another abscess appears and your horse is lame again.  It is essential to get this diagnosed and treated to stop further abscessing.

It is important to keep the hooves clean and protecting them with boots and pads will help give them some comfort during the painful abscessing.  There are many poultices and hoof soaks that can be used to help relieve pain.  Finding the cause and fixing the problem will be the best thing you can do for your horse.