Hoof abscesses are a common problem for horses and their carers, so here’s how to heal them naturally.

Sudden and extreme lameness in one leg,  is the usual symptom of a hoof abscess, together with a digital pulse. This is located in the artery running down the inside of the horse’s leg just above the fetlock and can easily be felt if inflammation is present.

Abscesses develop from punctures of the sole, subsolar bruising, corns and close nails. Some horses are prone to them without obvious cause.

Ideally your farrier should inspect the hoof to try to release the infection by making a very small drainage hole. This is not always possible as the infection may be making its way towards the coronet band where it will break out.


Whether there is a drainage hole or not, hot tubbing and poulticing is always beneficial to try to draw toxins out and provide pain relief. Shoes should be removed.

Add a good handful of Epsom Salts to 5 litres of hot (not boiling) water in a wide mouthed rubber bucket and stand the horse’s foot in this for 20 minutes, once or twice daily.   If there is a drainage hole, after hot tubbing, dry off, then syringe with Hydrogen Peroxide then Castor Oil. In any case poultice with Slippery Elm Bark Powder mixed into a paste with Castor Oil, then enclose the whole foot in a disposable nappy (infant size is usually suitable) & bandage to prevent dirt from entering.  If you have a suitable boot put this over the top.

Abscesses are extremely painful to the horse due to the pressure of the infected matter within the hoof capsule and it is pointless administering bute as it doesn’t work, as it is the pressure which is causing the pain.


If Rosehips are already part of your horses’ diets, then double the normal feeding rate immediately.  If Raw Australian Garlic is also being fed, more than likely every few days, feed it daily.   Trying to treat abscesses with penicillin is futile as it does not penetrate the hoof capsule.

My Just in Case Herbiotic Formula should be kept in your first aid kit, as abscesses are just one of the uses for this handy formula which contains Rosehips Garlic and Echinacea in liquid herbal extract form for oral dosing.



Horses prone to repetitive abscesses or abscesses which are slow to heal really do need a course of blood cleansing with an herbal extract prescription for a full blood cycle to prevent recurrence. Often this will drive further infection out in abscesses during the course of treatment or the infection will resolve through the bloodstream.

One of my own horses broke out with an abscess below the jaw during his course of this treatment, which was extraordinary, but he never had another abscess for some 12 years.  As a much older horse he began to show signs of abscessing again which I was able to resolve really quickly with my blood cleansing prescription, with no break out.

Mystery lameness when there is no obvious cause may have its origins in remnants of old abscesses, which sounds peculiar, but I have discovered this to be true after treating a few horses over the years with the course of blood cleansing to become completely sound.

It’s important to realise that the sole of the horse’s foot is very porous and is made up of about 50% moisture. To keep this balance, water is absorbed through the sole, off the dew, from around the trough, walking in creeks or dams, or when hosed down after work. During prolonged periods of wet weather, only 20% of that moisture is retained and the other 30% is secreted out through the sole. Similarly during the dry weather some of the 50% moisture reservoir is absorbed. Weather extremes play havoc with horses’ feet, especially when frequent changes occur from very dry to very wet conditions.  Abscesses can often result from hooves being exposed to long periods of wet weather.

Farriers are always impressed with the improvement in the rate and quality of growth of horses’ hooves on the VF Natural Diet.  So it’s your best bet to prevent abscesses occurring.