EQUINE HEALTH: How to use Equissage on horses with hoof abscesses
May 04

EQUINE HEALTH: How to use Equissage on horses with hoof abscesses

Description of condition:

A hoof or foot abscess is a localised bacterial infection within the foot forming a pocket of pus within the hoof horn. They are often associated with a change in the moisture content in the soil and can also develop as a result of trauma i.e., some form of penetration into the foot with bacteria being implanted into the deeper layers of the hoof, with the superficial layers then trapping the infection in. This may have happened weeks or in some rare cases, months before lameness is noticed and can range from mild to non-weight bearing acute lameness. 

Once the puss has accumulated pressure begins to build pushing on nerves causing pain. Significant inflammation within the foot occurs which may be noticed as an increasing digital pulse or heat in the hoof wall. Careful application of hoof testers at points around the hoof wall and sole, usually carried out by a vet or farrier, will often determine the location of the pain, unless the source of the abscess is unusually deep.

Current recommended management & treatment:

Depending on the location of the abscess recommendations can include removal of a shoe if shod, to allow for a more thorough examination. Gentle & calculated paring away by a vet or specialist farrier may allow for a release of pressure and allow the abscess to drain. Often a warm poultice and protective bandaging or padding are applied to the foot, and these are usually changed twice a day until no further discharge is seen. If the pain is acute, anti-inflammatory pain relief may be given as a temporary measure by the attending vet before the abscess has burst, and pressure is relieved. 

Unfortunately, in some cases due to the location or depth of the infection, it is not possible for your vet to safely pair enough to allow for successful drainage, however, if left untreated the infection may burst out at the coronary band or through the sole. Abscesses can be re-occurring and horses with poor hoof quality and in some cases, horses with laminitis or other conditions of the hoof may be more susceptible, these horses will require more management of the hoof, especially in extreme weather conditions where the chances of infection are more prevalent.

How Equissage may also assist:

A warm poultice is commonly applied to encourage further drainage of the infection from the hoof, preventing further infection pooling and potentially bursting from the coronary. Equissage uses CVT therapy which is clinically proven to assist circulation, venous and lymphatic drainage through up to 2ft of tissue and 4ft of bone, but at the same time, it is proven to be non-concussive and operates at a low medical grade acceleration rate appropriate to promote blood supply and lymph flow, without further concussion to the damaged area. It is commonly found that twice-daily Equissage treatments can be extremely beneficial in drawing out the infection at an increased rate, without resorting to excessive paring. 

Treatments during this time may also give some non-medicated relief during the recovery period.  In addition, by giving horses with poor or compromised hoof quality regular Equissage treatments to increase blood flow to the coronet band and encourage lymph drainage, CVT therapy may assist with improving the ongoing hoof integrity, acting as a preventative maintenance treatment program for horses with poor quality feet that are susceptible to abscesses.

Introducing the back pad first on a standard-setting working up to medium setting as the horse accepts it. The leg boot should be first introduced to the front legs and then to the leg in the question of the hoof showing the abscess. Adjust so the cap sits firmly & flat against the joint on the hand unit with the arrow pointing down ensuring a good connection. 

When using on hind legs be careful to ensure the horse will accept the weight of the hand unit in the hind boot before turning it on, gently ask them to move the leg and re-assure the horse before turning the hand unit on. Turn the timer up to 30mins and slowly adjust the intensity to medium as the horse accepts it, reassuring the horse as you are doing so. Once at a low to medium intensity press both up arrows at the same time which will result in the setting changing to CPM (cyclo poly modulation) which is the preferred setting for focusing on the lower leg for increased blood supply and lymphatic flow. Ideally, this should be repeated morning and afternoon (preferably 5hrs or more apart) for maximum benefit through a 24hr period and repeated daily until required.

**Whilst Equissage is often recommended by Vets as part of a management or rehabilitation program to assist with a variety of conditions, should you have concerns or contra indications in your particular case please consult your preferred Vet