If your horse has an abscess or puncture on his foot, your vet or farrier may ask you to pack his foot with ichthammol, a black, sticky ointment that helps to draw out pus, reduce inflammation and treat infection.
If you suspect your horse has an abscess, contact your vet to confirm the diagnosis. If your horse's condition does not improve or worsens after packing the hoof with ichthammol, follow up with your vet to rule out other infection or injury.
You can buy ichthammol from your local tack shop or online. It may also be available at your local pharmacy, but the smaller size container may not provide you with enough ointment to treat a hoof abscess.
Items you will need
Baby diaper or roll of cotton
Hoof pick and brush
Prepare the duct tape bandage by placing 12-inch-long strips of duct tape in overlapping rows horizontally and then vertically to form a bandage in the shape of a plus sign. You can do this by applying each strip of duct tape on a the plastic lid of a storage bin. Any surface will do as long as the tape will peel easily off the material without leaving particles of debris stuck to the tape.
Don't worry about exact measurements, just ensure that the bandage is large enough so that when you apply it to the hoof, the center of the bandage fully covers the sole and the tabs fully wrap over the hoof and reach to the pastern. If you make the bandage too large, trim with scissors.
Clean all dirt, manure and bedding from the hoof with a hoof pick, and brush away any loose dirt and rocks from the bottom and sides of the hoof. You can also wash the hoof with a sponge and water. If you do, dry the hoof thoroughly with a towel before applying ointment.
Completely cover the sole of the hoof with ichthammol, filling in any area that has been cut out of the hoof. Wear latex gloves to prevent the ointment from staining your hands.
If you have trouble getting the ointment to stick, or your horse is not standing still for the process, consider applying a thick layer of ichthammol to the center of a diaper or cotton roll, rather than directly to the hoof.
Once you apply the ointment, do not allow your horse to lower his foot until the bandage is secure, as you do not want to trap any dirt or rocks inside. If possible, have a helper available to hand you bandaging materials.
Place the diaper or cotton roll at the bottom of the hoof and fasten the diaper around the front of the pastern. If you use rolled cotton, wrap the cotton so it fully covers the hoof.
Apply the duct tape bandage to the bottom of the hoof and roll the tape up so it covers the hoof. Wrap another two to four strips of duct tape around the top of the bandage, circling the pastern to secure the bandage. Do not wrap the pastern tightly, as this may cut off blood flow to the hoof.
Repack your horse's hoof daily or as directed by your veterinarian or farrier. Remove the bandage by tearing or using scissors to cut the duct tape starting at the top of the pastern toward the sole of the hoof until you can peel the bandage off. If you used cotton, it should come off with the duct tape. If you used a diaper, pull the tabs to release the diaper and remove it. Clean the hoof thoroughly before repacking.