Spotting Signs of a Hoof Abscess in Horses

Sometimes my luck just sucks. I thought my luck was turning around and things were finally going to go smooth with my horses but that isn’t the case. Vinnie came up lame and it’s an abscess.

Fortunately, I’ve been around horses long enough to guess his lameness was due to an abscess and was able to call my farrier and catch it early.

If you’re wondering, how did I know he had an abscess?

Well here were the symptoms Vinnie showed:

  • Heat in his pastern but no swelling
  • His hoof seemed a little hot as well
  • He was limping pretty badly and not wanting to put a lot of weight on his foot
  • There were no visible signs of any injuries – such as scratches, puncture wounds, etc on the outside of his leg

My farrier was able to come out on Friday and he pulled his shoe then used hoof testers to see if he was sensitive to pressure. He was when he tested a spot right where the shoe sat on the inside of the hoof, so he dug out the soft spot and found the abscess. It appeared like the abscess had just started because there wasn’t any puss, just some clear liquid. It also was very low on the hoof and not very big in diameter or depth.

Once my farrier dug out what he thought was enough, he then made an iodine solution (water + Iodine) in a syringe and flushed out the abscess. He thought doing it that one time was plenty and said I wouldn’t need to do it again. However, I still would need to soak it in Epson salt for 15-20 mins for a few days and keep it dry with a diaper wrap. Yep you read that right. I said a diaper wrap. Who knew diapers were good for things other than babies butts. 😉


abscess kit

Soaking foot


Diaper foot

(Sorry this image is blurry. I took all of these with my phone and they didn’t turn out so great.)

I’ve done as instructed and Vinnie’s abscess is healing nicely. I did have him on a low dose of bute when he first showed signs of lameness and then gave it to him for another couple of days. Now he’s longer lame and if my luck gets better, we’ll be tacking a shoe back on Friday. Let’s hope my luck is on the up and up because I want to be able to ride Vinnie.


Here are some great articles about hoof abscess if you want to learn more.

The Horse – Hoof Abscesses in Horses 

Horse Channel – Hoof Abscesses


Has your horse ever had an abscess?

How did you keep your horses hoof dry and wrapped up?

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  • Reply
    September 6, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I luckily haven’t had anyone with an abscess in a while, but I did the diaper thing, duct tape & a whole lot of vet wrap for bandaging!
    Raquel recently posted..Equestrian DecorMy Profile

  • Reply
    Weekend Cowgirl
    October 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    My donkey’s or goats have never had abscess and sure hope they never do. That soaking part might be a challenge! Glad to read what I need to look for though..
    Weekend Cowgirl recently posted..Donkey’s GrazingMy Profile

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