My Horse is Lame - What Do I Do?

Lameness from sole bruising +/- abcess formation

Sole bruising may occur acutely (e.g.stepped on a stone, concussion) resulting in lameness from the bruising which may or may not develop into an abcess. Either way, if your horse is lame and you can get a positive pain response to hoof tester application, it will worth your while to initiate treatment with a poultice to help draw out bruising and an abcess if one forms.

The degree on lameness can be confusing. Horses can become very lame when an abcess forms; equally - more severe damage can be present so veterinary attention should not be delayed to determine the cause of a severe lameness. It may still be an abcess - but peace of mind is worth the vet examination.

Bruising should respond fairly quickly to application of a very warm Animalintex poultice. These can be cut in half for 2 treatments, pour on hot water then fix with elastoplast. Change every 12 hours. If lameness persists, economics then usually dictates the use of a clay poultice.

Clay poultice applied in the following manner can be left on for 3-5 days before it needs refreshing. Use of the Horsecrocz will significantly increase the durability of the poultice, stopping the hoof cutting throught the elastoplast and providing support. We recommend padding the rear support of the Horsecrocz with elastoplast to prevent it rubbing into the pastern.

Abcesses can respond quickly to poulticing or they may take a very long time, sometimes weeks to months, before they burst out either along the coronary band or through the sole. 


     Hoof testers      Animalintex poultice or Swelldown     Elastoplast

Brown paper bag         Horsecrocz            Scissors &  tape 

Paperbag glove (2)Horsecrocz


1. Clean hoof, use hooftesters with firm even pressure over the sole to determine if there is a pain response. The response should be repetitive with the horse repeatedly attempting to pull the leg away from the application of pressure. We prefer to remove the shoe to enable a thorough exam.

2. Animalintex poultice - pour hot water over the poultice, apply to sole with plastic wrap to outside, then bandage.

Clay poultice - use brown paper lunch bag to scoop out a good handful of clay and apply it all over the sole. Leaving the bag in place, wrap elastoplast around the hoof in a clockwise fashion. Ensure to cover the hoof edge and finish by wrapping the pastern snugly.

Two strips of electrical tape over the elastoplast will prevent the ends flipping up. You can apply further protection to the edges of the hoof with duct tape or better still, use a Horsecrocz which will keep the poultice in place for 3-5 days.

3. When removing the bandage you will need a scalpel or very sharp instrument to cut down the front of the hoof in 2 places, then peel away off hoof. Wash and dry the hoof, check the lameness and repeat poultice if necessary.

Remember - don't delay vet examination if the treatment is not responding or the lameness is severe.