Solution for a Hoof Abscess

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2011 Member

Sometimes, even though it seems like we have everything a person could possibly need for a horse, we don’t.

And when we need something that you just can’t go to the store and get then we have to improvise. In this case I was needing an EasySoaker or something like it. My beloved old endurance horse, Zapped+/, had turned up suddenly lame. At 28 years of age, a veteran with 6,480 AERC miles, he as been amazingly sound. So it was really a shock to see him limping.

He is the herd boss, so I was pretty sure that no one had kicked him. I couldn’t find a mark on him. He had galloped out to pasture with the others the previous day and looked great. I checked his legs for heat and swelling but found nothing: no apparent signs of injury. I decided it had to be in the hoof which I keep trimmed up myself. I dug around with the pick and hoof knife and didn’t find anything unusual. I rasped his hoof a bit and only found some minor bruising at the heel. No sensitivity and only slight heat. I am not a vet but have learned a few things along the way. I wanted him to be more comfortable as I evaluated this so I gave him some Bute and decided to wait and see what the next day brought.

The next day came with a still-lame horse. The Bute had not helped much. This confirmed a problem in the hoof: a soft tissue or arthritic situation would have responded to Bute. But problems in the hoof don’t respond as well due to inflammation in the hoof capsule being so sensitive and having nowhere else to go. If it was a developing abscess, it was going to have to come to the surface and break before the old boy got any relief.

I needed to soak the hoof to help pull the inflammation out. I did not have an EasySoaker or any type of medicinal boot. So I took a heavy rubber bucket, hot water and a bit of tea tree oil. I would have used Epsom Salts but didn’t have any, and again improvised with Tea Tree oil as it is antifungal, antispetic and really cleans. The whole idea was to soak it, soften, and hopefully pull the bad stuff out through some tiny hole that dirt or a rock had entered through into the hoof laminae in the first place. I picked the hoof and placed it in the bucket of steamy water. He must have thought it felt pretty good as he was happy to stand with his foot in the bucket.

I soaked Zap's hoof and lower leg in a bucket of hot water with about a tespoon of Tea Tree oil added. After about 30 minutes the water had cooled off, so I let him take his foot out of the bucket and put it on the nice green grass to keep it clean. I then gooped on a clay poultice. The clay would help pull any bacteria or infection out of the hoof or frog.

I slathered a heavy layer of a clay poultice all over the sole and heel of the hoof after soaking.

After soaking, a heavy clay poltice is applied to the sole and heel area.

After I slathered on the poultice I placed a large Ziploc bag over it, then covered it all with an Easyboot Glove. Now I had myself a medicinal boot that would keep the medicine in the hoof and the boot would hold it all together and keep it clean.
I then placed a large ziploc bag over the hoof and covered all of that with an Easyboot Glove.

The poltice was contained with a ziplock bag, then placed into an Easyboot Glove.

The next morning he was walking out well. By afternoon he trotted out to the pasture! The problem with these abscesses is that we often never see where they drain out. If they drain through the sole or around the frog, we don't see it, so it is still necessary to keep the area clean and covered.

The boot, or in this case the Glove enters the picture. Sometimes they blowout the heel or the coronary band but as yet I can't see a place where that occurred. So it either very small or it did drain out the bottom. Either way my old horse is sound again and we are both very happy.

Karen Bumgarner

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