Hoof Problems: Part 2; Treatment & Wrapping the Hoof

Oz is soaking his hoof in Epsom saltsIf your horse has an abscess or soft soles, you will need to protect the hoof by wrapping it, and poultice it to draw out any infection/toughen the sole. When an abscess is present, it’s very very very (VERY) important to make sure the hoof is clean before wrapping.

Soaking the Hoof (Abscess Only)

To do this you can soak the hoof in a shallow pan of water and Epsom salts. I usually put in 2 cups of Epsom salts and 3-4 inches of water in the pan/tub. I find plastic ground feeding tubs the best for soaking. If your horse has bruised soles, you don’t want to soak the hoof as this will soften it even more. Make sure the water is room temperature. Your horse probably won’t like standing with his foot in a bucket, so be ready for him/her to leap out of the bucket and splash water every where. You might want to hold the horse on a lead rope the first few times!

NOTE: In winter, soak the hoof in a clean, dry stall so you don’t have ice forming in the aisle if your horse knocks the bucket over!

 What You’ll Need

What You'll Need

  •  A mixing bucket (for bruised soles)
  • Iodine
  • Sugar (for bruised soles)
  • Duct Tape
  • Diapers
  • VetWrap
  • Scissors
  • Diapers (I used Newborn size)



Step 1: Dry and Clean the Hoof

Dry Clean Hoof

If you have bruised soles/soft soles and therefore haven’t soaked the hoof, you’ll still need to clean the hoof out before wrapping it. I used the hoof brush and then sprayed the hoof with a 3/4 water & 1/4 bleach mix (don’t use it for more than 5 days in a row, as it kills ALL bacteria, Good and Bad).  Use a paper towel to dry the hoof off (or let it dry naturally while you cut your duct tape!).



Step 2: Cut your “Spider Tape” & Mix your Iodine/Sugar

Spider TapeYou’ll need to cut your duct tape into 7-8inch strips and make a star or “spider” using 6 or 7 strips. I like to make 1 a little longer than the rest to use as a tab to hold on to, without getting all the other pieces stuck to me.

If you’re treating soft soles or bruised soles, you’ll want to mix your sugar and iodine together. I used 1/4 cup Iodine and 4-5 tablespoons sugar to make a paste-like substance. I actually used a few mints, because I didn’t have sugar at the barn!

If you’re treating an abscess, mix your iodine with Epsom salts instead of sugar

Step 3: Paint the Hoof & Wrap it

Painting Hoof

Make sure you have your diaper handy because you won’t be able to put the hoof down to grab it! Next paint, or spoon in your Salt/Iodine or Epsom Salt/Iodine mixture into the hoof (Mine in the picture is a bit too liquid. It should be more of a paste).

To apply the diaper, first locate and pull out the tabs. The tabs will go at the top of the hoof (coronet band) so you’re pull them up over the heel and securing them on the top of the hoof. You can wrap it fairly tight, but you want to make sure you don’t have it too tight around the coronet band. It will be secured with vet wrap AND duct tape, so at this point you just want it tight enough to stay on.

Tabs Pointing Up



Step 4: Secure with VetWrap or Elastic Bandage

IMG_8073Next you’ll want to secure the diaper with an elastic bandage, like VetWrap. I wrap in a criss-cross around the hoof and usually use 1/3 of a roll. Don’t wrap over the coronet band as you can easily irritate it and cut off circulation to the hoof.

If you do go a bit over the coronet band, you can cut the vet wrap back by cutting a small (1 inch) slit in the middle, and folding the sides down like a collar on a shirt.

You’ll want to end your wrapping with the vet wrap on the top of the hoof so it’s easy
to cut, and your horse isn’t dragging the end piece on the ground while he walks (reducing stickability!).IMG_8074





Step 5: Duct Tape!

IMG_8075This is usually the most difficult part, because the tape starts sticking to EVERYTHING. The spider pattern makes it really easy to just “pat down” on the hoof, and secure the tabs he front of the hoof. It doesn’t have to look “pretty” and you can cover any patches you missed after.



Front of Hoof (below)








Step 6: Trim & Finish!

IMG_8078Trim the duct tape tabs at coronet band so a bit of the diaper shows at the top (that way you know you’re not too tight around the top). I don’t like wrapping over the coronet band or up the fetlock because it could lead to even more problems!


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