The first case shows a hoof that was left unattended for several months. The horse was shod about six months ago and the shoes were left on the horse. The shoes have finally fell off in time and what remained was a weakening in the sole caused by prolonged balling up of the hoofs with the snow and mud over the winter and spring months. I was finally called about three weeks later after the horse’s lameness was noticed. The prolonged balling up will in most cases cause thinning and bruising of the sole. In most cases it is taken care of before it will abscess, because the horses go lame from it. However, in this case I have suspected that the inside of the sole (yellow frame) was abscessed, because the horse was lame for such a long time. For this reason I found it necessary to make only a slight opening to drain the abscess. Since the sole in the afflicted hoof was very thin, I’ve used the farrier knife to open it. In many cases the veterinarians will attempt to do the same but they usually remove too much of the sole, which in return will create more problems later on since it takes some time for the sole to grow back, especially after it was deprived of sufficient blood circulation to enable good sole growth. Once when I’ve opened the effected part of the sole a decayed blood came out, which had a distinct foul odor that proved my suspicion to be correct and that the area was infected and abscessed. After the area was drained, the opening was flushed with iodine and the area was covered with vita-derm ointment. Since the sole was sensitive and the opening could not be covered by the shoe, the addition of protective rubber pad to the shoe was prudent. This not only prevented further infection of the opening but it also helped in preventing further bruising to the sole. This horse was sound the next day and ready to work.

The second case shows a typical abscess caused by bacteria. This is more likely to happen in horses that were somewhat neglected in the farrier care department. In other words this horse was left without being trimmed for several months and during the hot summer days the bacteria infestation of the hoof is very common. After the trim, the hoof testers were used to localize the abscess, in which case this was fairly easy because of the obvious black spot (hole) caused by bacteria. A small dip was cut out with the hoof knife and using just the hoof nail the abscess was punctured and opened. The “Hoof Abscess Treatment no 1” was implemented (without the soaking part) and the horse was sound the next day.

In both cases, no medication was used, since there was no severe infection spreading, because in either case there was no swelling above the fetlock joint.

When opening an abscess one has to know what he is doing, and it is recommended that only the farrier does this, especially when it comes to similar situation as in the first case. I do not recommend that you let your veterinarian do this, because they often lack the experience and often damage the hoof to the point that the horse is lame from missing too much of the sole. In other words, the horse is not sound next day or two but keeps on being lame for several days on account of the damage in the sole caused by inexperience. All we need to make is a fairly small opening whenever we need to drain the abscess. This can be done in the above methods or in some cases using the drill is very practical, but in the latter case one really needs to know what he’s doing.

After the trim a simple nail is used to drain the abscess.

A larger view of the same.

If you have diagnosed abscess (hoof testers) and you think it should be drained, I recommend that you call your farrier and not the veterinarian.


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