Help with Horse Hoof Abscess Care

Finger pointing to abscess in horse's foot.
Finger pointing to abscess in horse's foot. April Raines

Newsdate: Tuesday, June 11, 2024 - 11:30 am
Location: ROBERTS CREEK, British Columbia

Q:  My horse has a hoof abscess. What can I do to help him and will hoof boots help in his recovery?

Farrier examining an injured horse hoof.

Farrier examining an injured horse hoof

Though 100 percent treatable, abscesses can completely debilitate your horse.
© 2017 by Marcel Jancovic

Cavallo President Carole Herder shares her advice….

A: Your horse's hoof consists of live and organic substances, which means the cellular structure that makes up the hoof tissue can continually rejuvenate and regenerate. Nothing about a hoof abscess needs to remain a problem when providing proper circumstances for healing.

Changing your horse's conditions, both internally and externally, can present a challenge. Still, by taking steps to develop the optimal requirements for abscess convalescence, you will not only cure this condition and avoid relapse but prevent a host of other ailments from disturbing your horse.

Make no mistake. Though 100 percent treatable, abscesses can completely debilitate your horse. The pain can be so severe that he hobbles as though his entire leg is broken. Also, if treatment is lacking, the infection can spread and have grave implications throughout other areas of his body.

Provide as much comfort as possible. Get your Cavallo boots and pads on your horse as soon as you notice the signs of discomfort and then take the steps necessary to correct the issue.

The first step is to understand where the abscess originates and the direction it is spreading. We can then decide whether it may move up or down the hoof to expel. If the hoof sole is very tough and calloused, the abscess will likely exit through the coronet band. This exit may take more time, depending on where it currently dwells.

Having a nicely trimmed, and supple hoof would allow the abscess to exit more naturally downwards and out with gravity. It is helpful to soften and dissolve it to move it out more quickly. Your Cavallo Boots can help. Cavallos are easily modified to become therapy boots by simple cover-taping the drainage holes to prevent your solution from escaping.

Twenty to thirty minutes of warm salt-water soaks are perfect. Your horse can still move around while being treated. Then remove the boots to welcome the oxygen.

Like many infectious problems, abscesses are anaerobic, which means they thrive on a lack of oxygen—alternate air with 30 minutes of treatment, 4-5 times a day.

If you are going to use a drawing agent such as clay, you must ensure the area remains clean and open to air frequently to prevent any further infection.

Don't try to drain the abscess by squeezing or pressing on it. Pressure can push the infected material into the deeper tissues. Often, they will originate in the area underneath overgrown bars.

Exfoliating excess growth, trimming the bar area appropriately, and re-establishing circulation with increased movement could be all that is necessary to cure the condition. It may be an appropriate option to cut open the tissue to allow the abscess to drain.

If this is your choice, proceed with caution and be aware that many practitioners get overzealous with the knife. Cutting too much away can open the area to even more increased risk.       

A bacterial infection causes most abscesses. When bacteria enter, the immune system sends infection-fighting white blood cells to the affected area. As the white blood cells attack the bacteria, some nearby tissue dies, creating a hole which then fills with pus to form an abscess.

Any area of injury, bleeding, inflammation, excessive pressure, or bruising can initiate the process.

Also, foreign bodies can enter through hoof cracks and separation and cause problems for many years. The interloper may get so lodged inside that it could even require surgical removal. Infections can continue to exist and weaken the entire system of your horse.

Although our animals have innate healing abilities, many adverse conditions can thrive when your horse is sedentary and lacking in movement and blood circulation.

It's not necessary to resort to antibiotics unless the infection is extremely severe. Antibiotics rob the body of the good gut health and intestinal flora that more naturally and effectively restore your horse to optimal health. A round of probiotics, high-quality vitamins, and free-choice minerals will assist your efforts.

Remember, prevention is often less expensive overall and indeed prevents the heartache that accompanies lameness and debilitation.

Air circulation, exfoliation, properly balanced hoofs, movement, and a clean environment are mandatory and straightforward requirements for keeping a healthy horse. Infectious diseases, systemic, skeletal, and even emotional and behavioral issues are defeated with proper understanding and action to accommodate your horses’ ecological requirements.

Good luck in your horse’s journey to health!

About Cavallo

Built on strong ethics, Cavallo Horse & Rider is committed to excellent customer service and driven to provide products that promote equine wellness. Cavallo Hoof Boots are now sold worldwide in 25 countries to barefoot and shod horses alike.

Visit to learn about the full line of hoof boots.

Note: This press release article was first posted on in 2020.

Press release provided by Cavallo Horse & Rider

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