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Hoof Help

Question: I overheard a girl at a horse show talking about her horse’s hoof abscess, and it sounded awful! What is a hoof abscess, and how is it treated?

Answer: A hoof abscess is a bacterial infection inside the hoof. Any break in the hoof wall-sole junction, such as a crack or misplaced nail, can allow contaminated debris inside the hoof. A horse with a hoof abscess will usually appear suddenly and severely lame on one leg. Left untreated, most hoof abscesses will travel upwards and burst out at the softer coronary band. However, farriers and veterinarians prefer to pare an opening in the bottom of the foot for drainage to relieve the pain sooner and avoid potential complications. Experts recommend using a drawing agent, like RM Minard’s Epsom Poultice (#18162, $9.95), to help drain the abscess. You can also keep your horse comfortable by protecting his pared-down hoof with the Cavallo Simple Boot (#16712, $129.95).

Question: No matter how often I pick my horse’s feet, he keeps getting this black, smelly coating around his frog — what’s going on?!

Answer: It sounds like your horse has thrush, an infection a thick, black, smelly coating. Once thought to be caused by a wet and dirty environment, experts now believe thrush can develop even in the cleanest situations. Abnormal hoof shape, improper trimming, insufficient exercise and chronic lameness can make horses more susceptible to thrush. You can clear up an active infection with customer favorites like Thrush Buster (#10210, $12.95) and Thrush Remedy (#14761, $10.95).

Question: My horse has weak hooves, and hoof polish makes them seem really dry. After a long show season, his hooves are brittle and cracked. Help!

Answer: Sounds like your hoof polish might not be doing you any favors, and is drying out your horse’s already weak hooves. Consider a topical hoof conditioner that looks good, and is good for your horse! Two of our favorite products for healthy hooves, Tuff Stuff (#10630, $12.95) and Keratex Hoof Hardener (#17363, $39.95), condition and strengthen hooves, while creating a nice show ring shine.

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Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

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