Advertise Follow Us
If you have been around horses for long, you have probably had to deal with an abscess. For farriers, treating abscesses is part and parcel of what we do for a living. An abscess is simply an infection in the sensitive structures of the foot. Often it is from a puncture in the sole that allows bacteria into the solar corium. However, they can occur from a bruise that becomes infected or from the introduction of bacteria from other situations, such as severe wet or environmental changes.
As the bacteria in the hoof capsule reproduces, the horse’s internal defenses set off a reaction that eventually results in exudates and gas forming, leading to inflammation and causes the dermal (sensitive) and epidermal (horny) sole to separate. This causes intense pain from the pressure and the tearing apart of the sole and other regions as the abscess moves through the foot.
The pain a horse suffers during these episodes can be compared to what you feel if you smash the end of a fingernail and it fills with blood. If you have ever done that, you can see why horses with abscesses are lame to the point that you may think they have a broken leg.
When a horse has an abscess, the common treatment is to drain the abscess, if possible, and have the owner soak the hoof in Epsom salts and warm water for 15 minutes, twice daily. Not all horses appreciate having their hooves soaked, and…