When Should I Wrap my Horse's Hoof?
To wrap or not to wrap a hoof; that is the question that plagues many when their horse blows an abscess, has a puncture wound, has Thrush or Yeast (or both).
My general rule of thumb is... when in doubt, wrap the hoof.
It's not going to hurt your horse if you bandage and wrap their hoof for a few days while the hoof is healing.
I'll use an example, for the purpose of this article, a blown abscess vent on the sole of the hoof.
Photo courtesy of EquiMed
Once the abscess vents, it is necessary to thoroughly flush the hoof with some sort of anti-bacterial/anti-fungal/anti-septic/anti-biotic solution. I use a simple sea salt solution.
First, you want to thoroughly clean the horse's hoof. If choosing to soak the hoof to clean, I use an activated, neutral pH hardwood charcoal soak or a sea salt Water soak. If the season is not conducive to soaking your horse's hoof or the horse will simply not tolerate soaking, you can clean the hoof as much as possible, dry it off then use a syringe to deeply and forcibly flush the vent. I use a simple sea salt solution:
1 tbsp of sea salt
1 Qt of spring or tap water
Save what you don't use the first time for future flushes.
For charcoal soak I'll use:
1/4 cup of activated charcoal to 5 gal of water
After flushing or soaking the hoof, dry the hoof thoroughly.
I will then drop some essential oils (2 drops of Oregano, 2 drops of Frankincense, 5 drops of OnGuard (thieves)) into the vent and then bandage the hoof. The essential oils are an alternative to commercial triple antibiotic ointments that may be suggested.
I use a salve made with zinc ointment, activated charcoal, honey and essential oils and pack it into the vent in the hoof. You can also use a commercial product that contains antibacterial, antiseptic, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties.
Bandage according to environmental protections, if the weather is very wet and muddy, then you will extend the bandaging up over the pastern of the hoof, carefully. If the ground is dry, then a simple hoof wrap covering just the bottom of the hoof and slightly up the hoof is required.
The video below shows a simple way to wrap horses' hooves.
Please note, if your horse is going to be turned out on a lot of mud or snow, you'll want to extend the VetWrap up over the fetlock and pastern of the hoof. The duct tape can then be used to safely cover that area as well. This will prevent losing the wrap in the mud. (Please note, do not apply the VetWrap directly to your Scoot Boot as it will cause a reaction to the boot's TPU make up).
Be sure to assemble all your necessary items to complete the wrap before you begin!
I will leave the bandage on the hoof for a full 24 hours for the first day. After that, I will flush or soak the hoof twice a day, for a couple of days, until the vent has well filled in with new tissue. I also complement the tropical treatment with a homeopathic remedy 'Silicea', which helps to quickly resolve an abscess. The potency of the remedy will dictate if I give just one dose or several doses a day over the several days. This will usually help the hoof abscess to heal quickly and resolve in just a matter of days.
I don't like to keep horses in stalls during this time, I'd rather let them go out and move as they want. This movement helps increase the circulation in the horse's hooves to grow new, healthy tissue.
If an abscess blows out of the coronary band, the severity of the vent will help me determine whether or not to wrap the hoof. If it is a small vent and the horse is not moving around in a wet or muddy environment, then I will usually use the salt water flush and apply a bit of the salve a couple of times a day. If a large vent occurs, then I will proceed as outlined above.
I hope you never have to deal with an abscess in your horse's hoof, but, unfortunately, most horse owners will have to deal with one at one time or another.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me and I am more than happy to help, if I can.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian in regards to any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your horse. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the world-renown author of "10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves" and "Natural Hoof Anthology" as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in NE Connecticut and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com
Gwenyth is available for freelance assignments, contract work and consulting.