What Causes a Hoof Abscess?

Having a lame horse is an owner angst. To rectifying the problem, a general understanding of how it occurred is required. A hoof abscess is generally described as an infection between the sensitive inner hoof tissue and the hoof wall or sole.

The hoof is sore to touch, horse is lame, heat in the hoof, and if the infection has found an outlet, there will be a discharge.

Professional equine opinion has the causes as one of the following:

• Wall separation allowing the debris and microbes to enter

• Flares occurring in the hoof resulting in separation and bruising of the heels

• Cracked bars either side of the frog combined with carrying too much body weight

• Nail hole where debris and microbes have entered and under certain conditions decay and infection has developed

• Stone bruise to the sole

• Not common, but a sharp object penetrating the sole.

What can I do to help prevent a hoof abscess?

The following points will certainly assist and in many cases if carried out correctly eliminate the occurrence of a hoof abscess.

• Correct balance when trimming

• Flaring should not be present

• Shoe needs to be correctly fitted & balanced

• Signs of seedy toe need immediate attention

• Nails inserted within the white line

• Correct nutrition in your horses diet

• Regular topical moisturizing to whole hoof

How to detect a hoof abscess?

A suspected abscess can be identified by an initial examination, measuring the pulse of the suspected leg, and how it compares to the opposite unaffected leg.

To measure a horses pulse, place finger and thumb either side and above fetlock joint, behind the tendon. Either notice the pulse or measure beats per minute. (compare to other leg) Faster or stronger pulse, indicates that attention is needed.

Your farrier or vet can also assist by a pinch test around the hoof. An obvious reaction is given by the horse where soreness appears.

Most regularly, the cause is through microbe migration and the body is fighting the infection. But a little overlooked damage that may be just as common as wall separation is caused when part of the corium is damaged. This occurs when the internal tissue that underlies the hoof wall is damaged due to compression. Once this occurs, there is little blood flow and the tissue dies.

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