A duct tape bandage is often used to cover a horse’s foot that has a sole abscess, bruise or wound to the sole. Commonly, a vet or farrier has created a hole in the sole to promote drainage of an abscess.
Bandaging is performed to keep the sole clean and dry, and possibly maintain contact between the wound and an antiseptic or poultice. How long the hoof should be bandaged depends on a number of factors and should be determined by your vet.
There are a variety of commercial hoof covers and boots that are durable and convenient, but costly. Being able to construct a foot bandage out of duct tape is a valuable and simple skill.
Construct the duct tape patch first. Using your thigh, overlap 6-8 strips of duct tape horizontally and then add 6-8 more strips vertically to form a wide patch. The diameter of the patch should be wide enough to cover the bottom of your horse’s foot and a good portion of the hoof wall on all sides. Now use a scissors to cut the corners diagonally to allow the tape to conform better to the wall.
Make sure that the hoof wall is clean and completely dry. Duct tape is fairly adhesive to dry hoof wall. If the hoof is wet, the bandage will not adhere.
Hold your horse’s foot between your knees. Using a tongue depressor, scoop up whatever poultice you want to use, and place it on the sole. Apply several squares of gauze over that. Now place the duct tape patch squarely over the sole, and use your hands to adhere it all around the hoof wall. Now allow the horse to step down onto it. Fold the tabs up onto the hoof wall.
Unroll the duct tape and place it around the rim of the sole, several turns and up onto the hoof wall, directly under the coronet band. Put your horse’s hoof down and ensure that the tape is not on the hairline anywhere. Flatten it out and adhere it well to the wall. Add strips to reinforce and improve the appearance of the bandage.
Depending upon how much the horse walks, and the bedding provided, this bandage will need to be reinforced at the toe frequently. Use additional strips of duct tape 1-2 times per day to do this.
Note: Baby diapers also work well as an under-bandage given their custom shape. In my practice, I use sizes 3-4 for a normal size hoof.
Tips for safety & Success
Do not to cover the coronet band. The bandage can be wrapped tightly around the hoof wall, however a tight duct tape bandage over the coronet band can cause severe injury.
Clean your horse’s hoof well, first using a hoof knife, then a stiff scrub brush to remove as much debris as possible. Use antiseptic soap to scrub the sole and affected area well, then rinse with a hose or by pouring clean water over the hoof, and dry thoroughly with towels.
The dressing placed directly on the hoof depends upon the condition being treated and your vet's preference. A safe choice for most sole defects is sugardine (povidone iodine and sugar paste). Do not use harsh disinfectants unless instructed to do so by your vet. Think of the sole as no different than thick skin. Wounds to the sole of the hoof heal in the same way.