We’ve all been there – you’re getting ready for a hack and notice your horse isn’t putting even weight on their hooves. You have a feel of their legs and hoofs and, OUCH – it’s an abscess. An abscess in your horse’s hoof can be especially painful, but don’t worry, it’s easy to treat at home.
Knowing how to treat the abscess by wrapping the hoof in a poultice is an essential hack for every equestrian. Our step-by-step guide teaches you how to draw out the infection and promote healing.
A poultice is a type of dressing that is put onto a horse’s hoof. It is designed to draw out an abscess and usually comes in the shape of a hoof, though some poultices can be cut to size. It’s best to use a wet poultice for two/three days before switching to a dry one to keep the area clean. Depending on the severity of the abscess, this should be kept on for a minimum of three days. You can always ask a vet or farrier if there are no signs of improvement after three days.
If your horse seems lame, uncomfortable on its hoofs or has one foot warmer than the other, it could mean they have an abscess. This happens when bacteria gets into the hoof and causes a build-up of pus, creating pressure on the foot. This infection can be excruciating, and if it isn’t dealt with in the right way, it can cause further infections. A poultice draws out the infection while keeping dirt and bacteria away from the hoof.
Abscesses tend to occur in wet weather, when tiny cracks form in the hoof wall and allow bacteria into the hoof. As moisture and dirt get into the hoof, this can cause an infection. infected hoof may also be warmer than the non-infected hoof due to swelling. It can be heart breaking when you realise your horse is in pain, but by following these simple steps your friend will be back to their normal self in no time.
Top tip: Look out for any swelling coming up the pastern as this can be a sign that the infection is going up the leg. Contact your vet immediately if this starts to happen.
Now you’ve successfully poultice your horse, it’s all about preventing the issue from happening again. Through the summer months, try to keep your horse’s hoofs in good condition by keeping their environment clean and dry. Book regular visits with your farrier to remove unhealthy hoof tissue and keep hoofs clean on a day-to-day basis with a Wahl Hoof Pick at home. We also advise using Gold Label Hoof Hardener before extreme weather changes to stop cracks occurring in the hoof.
The bottom line? Hoof abscesses happen! The best thing you can do for your horse is be prepared for it. Keep a poultice in your tack and keep an eye out for any signs of distress in your horse. Ensure their environment is kept clean and dry, and always consult a farrier or vet if you have concerns.