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Heat that comes and goes in hoof/intermittent lameness

I’m posting to see if others have had similar experiences with this, as it seems a little perplexing to me and those around me.

The story: My horse has been suffering from intermittent lameness for the past few weeks. He sprung a shoe during my ride and since it had just been put on a few days prior, we couldn’t remove the shoe, as it was so tight. I duct taped it and put his bell boots on until the farrier could come out, which was a couple days later. Shoe got fixed and when I went to ride him, he was lame on the same foot he sprung the shoe (front right). It had some heat, so thinking it could be soreness or an abscess, I soaked and poulticed for about a week. No abscess ever surfaced.

Started lunging to test him out and he came up sound and heat was gone. We started going back to work and he was perfect. Maybe about five days later, I noticed the foot was HOT compared to his others which were ice cold as I was tacking him up. He then came up lame. Farrier came out the next day but his hoof was ice cold and he was unresponsive to hoof testers. Rode after and he was still lame.

Had vet out today and is a little perplexed but he couldn’t do xrays with his shoes still on. He did a lameness exam and he came up sound with no soreness on either feet, again unresponsive to hoof testers.

Thoughts? Can abscesses move around? Perhaps he strained/sprained something when he sprung the shoe? Nothing really explains the heat coming and going, nor the intermittent lameness. The shoe has been fixed over three weeks ago so I think any soreness from walking around on it would have subsided by now.

Hopefully I didn’t forget to mention anything… Please let me know if you have a question! Thanks :slight_smile:

I have had an abscess come and go (in terms of being apparent) for weeks - went away long enough for me to show the horse one weekend, then was back. Finally had vet out, gave her long song and dance about how horse was ok, then lame, then ok, then reluctant to canter left, then ok, etc…
Jogged the horse for the vet and he was HOPPING lame …leapt sideways at hoof testers…when shoe was pulled, pus came oozing out of nail hole.
So, yes, could be an abscess, still.


I have been using the AcuLife Patches on my horses. Drug free, fast, safe and effective pain relief. I put them on a foundered horse and one that had abscesses. If you want more info let me know. Farmgirl

I had a very stoic young mare who was intermittently off, phantom heat. Started to think it was higher up in her stifle and she was working an abcess from the change in how she put her feet down. Had vet come, he x-rayed and we found it was an old barn nail sliver up in her laminae: removed it, found a huge abcess that went transversely around half way up the hoof wall.

After your had the shoe re-set maybe a small piece of nail dislodged?

Thank you both for your replies.

Just in case anyone comes across this - horse had an abscess in the same foot about a year ago that we found in an x-ray that never surfaced - the heat and lameness just slowly went away. When we re-xrayed him in the same foot, the SAME abscess was still there in the exact same spot, only a bit smaller. The vet believes that he aggravated the healing abscess when he sprung the shoe and had to walk around with it for a couple of days. Again, the lameness slowly but surely went away over time.

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Thank you for this thread.
I have a horse in my barn now with this intermittent heat/lameness issue that his owner thinks is an abscess from his past history.

My experience with abscesses have always been quickly, severely lame, resolving in 1-2 weeks. He will be sound 1 day and then head bobbing the next.

Hopefully it will absorb or pop soon. Thanks for the education:)