Hoof Abscess In Horses – Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

When your horse seems off and shows lameness, one of the things you should look out for is a hoof abscess. A hoof abscess is similar to a human’s pimple. It’s a pocket of pus in the hoof that causes pain and discomfort to your horse.

Bacteria find their way into the sensitive parts of the hoof. It will start to cause an infection that the horse’s white blood cells will fight off. This will then create the hoof abscess.

Besides lameness, other signs of hoof abscesses to look out for are:

* Swelling of the lower leg

* Warmth of the hoof exterior

* The horse is limping or avoiding stepping on one of its feet

Sometimes, horses don’t show any symptoms at all. That’s why it’s important to regularly check on your horse’s hooves for any signs of a hoof abscesses. If this is not treated immediately, it can cause further problems.

A hoof abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. There are many reasons that bacteria enter a horse’s hoof, including:

1. Careless shoeing

2. Any small object stuck in the hoof

3. Trauma to the hoof’s sensitive layers

4. Infection of the laminae (laminitis)

5. Navicular disease

6. Transitioning from dry to wet environmental conditions

No matter what the reason is, it’s important to get it treated right away. A horse’s hoof doesn’t expand, and the pressure caused by the pus is painful for the horse.

It will continue to grow and will find a way to spread. It may go deeper and further into the horse’s foot, which can become chronic. But there’s also a good chance that the pus pocket will pop outside and won’t go deeper.


A hoof abscess that’s detected early is easier to treat. The treatment requires draining the pus pocket and keeping it clean while it’s healing. A common treatment would also involve poulticing and foot soaks.

Create a mixture of hot water and Epsom salt. Then soak the infected hoof. This will allow the pus to drain faster and keep the sole clean until it has fully healed.

Since you can’t stay with your horse 24/7 to soak its hoof, you must learn how to poultice it. Poulticing is simply another way of soaking the hoof.

You’ll use bran to hold the salt and hot water. Then use a hoof boot to keep it in place. You can also use plastic bags and tons of duct tape if you don’t have a hoof boot.

Once the hoof abscess becomes severe, it might need more than soaking to treat it. If you’re not sure how to handle your horse’s hoof abscess, it’s better to call a vet who may prescribe antibiotics. Your farrier may also help lessen the stress for your horse.


All horses are vulnerable to hoof abscesses. But there are ways to prevent your horse from getting infected.

* Maintain your horse’s stalls and paddocks, keeping them clean and dry.

* If you’re suspecting an extreme weather change, apply some hoof hardeners before it happens. This will protect the hooves from getting excessive moisture.

* Get your horse’s hooves trimmed regularly

* Remove any debris that can injure your horse