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Situations when you might need to “pack” your horse’s hoof include the loss of a shoe, injury to the hoof or coronary band, hoof abscess, or other hoof infection or ailment. Packs should be changed daily or as recommended by your veterinarian or farrier.

There are a variety of methods to effectively pack a horse’s hoof:

  • Before applying a hoof pack first wash the affected leg and hoof

  • If you need to apply medication to the hoof or coronary band simply apply the medication onto a couple of clean 4 x 4 gauze pads or a non-stick telfa pad and place it on the affected area

  • If there is a hoof abscess which needs to be “drawn” out you should apply a drawing agent. Talk to your farrier or veterinarian as they may have a recommendation depending on the nature of the hoof infection
     - Cut a piece of animalintex® either to the size of the sole of the hoof (if the location of the abscess hasn’t yet been identified) or slightly larger than the size of the hole opened for draining
     - If the abscess hasn’t begun draining or is still draining dampen the animalintex® with clean warm water
     - Apply the animalintex® to the affected area

  • Cover the hoof with two disposable diapers (size 4 works well for most average size horses) by wrapping the hoof like a baby bottom with first one then the other diaper. It works best to cover the hoof first from toe to heel and then from side to side. Secure the diaper tabs loosely around your horse’s pastern.

  • Wrap the diapered hoof with enough vetrap™ to secure it in place (about ½ a roll) being careful to always have the diaper between the horse’s leg/coronary band and vetrap™, avoid over-tightening the vetrap™ especially over the horse’s coronary band, pastern, and leg

  • Leave room for expansion as the leg may swell

  • Duct tape can be applied in several different ways, but should always provide several layers of protection over the horse’s toe
    o Option A:
     - Cut small strips of duct tape and apply them over the sole of the wrapped hoof, covering side to side and then toe to heel
     - Holding the roll of duct tape, stick the tape to the rim of the hoof, unravel the roll by wrapping the tape around the edge of the hoof from heel to toe several times
     - Use additional small pieces of duct tape to "finish" the pack by neatening the appearance and using the duct tape to "tighten" key areas, again being careful not to tighten the tape around the coronary band, pastern, or leg
    o Option B:
     - Cut several strips of duct tape 6-10 inches long (depending on the size of the hoof)
     - Stick the strips to a wall in an overlapping pattern, first one way, then the other – until a rough 10” x 10” patch is constructed
     - Remove the duct tape patch from the wall and stick it to the sole of the wrapped hoof
     - Apply extra duct tape over the toe to provide additional layers of protection
     - Cut additional strips of duct tape and secure the top of the hoof pack being careful to allow room for expansion of the leg

Check the packed hoof regularly for swelling above the pack which could tighten the pack inadvertently causing a reduction in blood flow. If swelling is present and the hoof needs to be packed, simply remove the pack and start over being especially careful to allow ample room for swelling above the pack.

Take special note of the toe area of the hoof pack as often horses will walk through the pack. If the toe of the pack is worn through you will need to remove the pack, wash the area, and reapply a hoof pack paying special attention to add ample duct tape coverage on the toe area.

Selecting Duct Tape
Take care when purchasing duct tape to be used for hoof packing. The stouter tape holds up much better to the wear and tear of your horse walking on it.

Special Note: If you are treating a hoof abscess you should contact your farrier and/or veterinarian and schedule an appointment. Often they may be able to identify the location of the abscess and open a small hole to both relieve the pressure and start the draining process. In addition to packing the hoof with drawing agents, your farrier and/or veterinarian may recommend soaking the affected hoof in warm water with Epsom salt and iodine.

In a joint effort to help educate the horse world, this tip is brought to you by the Kentucky Horse Council (www.kentuckyhorse.org)  and KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” FREE monthly webinars and weekly tips. The Kentucky Horse Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated, through education and leadership, to the protection and development of the Kentucky equine community. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com  to register for the next webinar or sign-up to be notified when a new tip comes out.