Bruising and Abscess in Horse Hooves
Bruising and abscess need not occur together. It is possible however for bruising to develop into an abscess. A bruise on a hoof can simply be identified as a reddish area on the soft portion of the hoof. An abscess on the other hand may not be immediately detected. Since the hoof has a hard portion, it may take time for the pressure resulting from the immune system fighting the infection to cause pain and visual lameness in a horse.
Causes of Bruising and Abscess in Horse Hooves
Bruising is mainly caused by trauma to the soft portion of the hoof. A horse that is constantly used in difficult terrain or terrain with a lot of stones and debris may easily lead to a bruise. Some horses however are more prone to bruising than others. Those that are flat footed are more at risk of getting bruises and other injuries on the soft area of the hoof. A bruise that does not become an abscess may become inflamed on its own.
An abscess typically develops as a result of bacterial infection. The bacteria may come from dirt and particles that become trapped in the hoof. A bruise which is characterized by damaged blood vessels may become ideal breeding grounds for the invading bacteria. When the horse’s immune system attempts to fight the bacterial infection, pus will form and will eventually cause enough pressure to make the horse feel pain.
Symptoms of Bruising and Abscess in Horse Hooves
If the pain becomes unbearable, a horse may move as if it is lame. This may make some horse owners think that their horses have more serious bone, ligament or tendon concerns. In less severe cases, a horse may still be able to move almost normally but may appear unwilling to stride or to turn. When on a standing position, a horse may visibly shift its weight away from the problem hoof.
Treatment of Bruising and Abscess in Horse Hooves
Some horse owners may treat hoof bruising by soaking the hoof. Others however do not agree to this kind of treatment. The hoof may only become even more sensitive and prone to injury because of soaking. It is generally more advisable to simply administer medication to reduce inflammation. While a bruise is healing, it is be best to limit heavy horse work although regular gentle exercise is still a must.
If an abscess develops, experts recommend simple draining. Antibiotics, antiseptics and painkillers may be used during the treatment and recovery period.
The surroundings of a horse can obviously contribute to both bruising and the formation of abscesses. Horse owners should therefore take steps to ensure that they are able to manage a horse’s environment. This really simply means that stables and pastures should be kept clean and free of debris and contaminants.
Aside from a clean environment, horse owners should also ensure that horses’ hooves are constantly inspected and trimmed.