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  • Writer's pictureSarah L Rhoades, DVM

How to make a Duct Tape Soak Boot

A MUST know for any horse owner. Hoof abscesses are one of the most common causes of lameness in a horse - they can cause your horse to go on a little off, to even none-weight bearing lame sometimes quite suddenly - and it's often simply a question of when as opposed to if it will happen to most horse owners.

Hoof Testers are used by veterinarians to test the bottom of a horse's hoof for specific points of soreness. They are helpful in localizing lameness and are an important part of any orthopedic examination.
Hoof Testers are used by veterinarians to test the bottom of a horse's hoof for specific points of soreness. They are helpful in localizing lameness and are an important part of any orthopedic examination.

When an infection develops within a horse's hoof, pressure develops and can be especially painful depending on the structures involves (think about having an abscess under your fingernail... and then having stand with all your weight on it - that's basically what's going on here). The abscess must generate significant pressure until it is either pushed up the hoof and out the coronary band where the tissue is soft, or finds a hole in the bottom of the foot such as the frog or heel. Often, if your veterinarian is able to intervene, we can identify specifically where the hoof abscess is located using hoof testers, identify a tract and then dig a hole to the abscess to allow it to drain and heal.


Post care requires some elbow grease on your part though. The new hole must remain open to allow infection to drain out, but dirt and debris must be prevented from entering. The foot needs to remain covered to allow for drawing salves/ointments to remain in contact with the foot, allow the abscess to drain, and keep dirt, gravel, and manure out. You can buy commercial soak boots from the feed store to have on hand in this event - but in a pinch, this is a handy little protocol you can use. Check out the video below!!!


  1. You will need: Duct Tape, Baby Diaper, and Drawing Salve (could be any of the following - ichthamol, 50%/50% DMSO+Nitrofurosin **USE GLOVES**, magnesium sulfate or epsom salt paste, etc.)

  2. First, make two squares using strips of duct tape. The length of strips will vary depending on the size of your horse's hoof, however, for most light riding horses strips about 8-10" will work. Place one square on top of the other, such that the strips are perpendicular to each other for added strength.

  3. Clean the bottom of your horse's hoof. Ideally this is done in a clean area, so that as you are working if the horse (which can sometimes be quite painful and reluctance to have his/her foot handled) sets his foot down you don't have to clean it repeatedly.

  4. Place your drawing salve on the bottom of the hoof and immediately place the baby diaper over the top. Most baby diapers fit nicely over the foot and have the added bonus of having strips to attach it to the hoof.

  5. The duct tape square goes on top of the baby diaper. Push the sides around the hoof.

  6. Take additional duct tape, and wrap the sides of the duct tape square to the hoof. Make sure to stay on the hard part of the foot and do not go past onto the soft part of the leg (the coronary band) or you may damage your horse's leg. If you do accidentally, push the duct tape down and tape around and over to keep it off the coronary band.

  7. You may reinforce your boot by placing additional duct tape to the sole of the foot, or wrapping the boot in vet wrap (again, be SURE to stay beneath the coronary band or the vet wrap can turn into a very very bad tourniquet).

  8. Check daily to make sure the bottom of the foot isn't wearing through - particularly right at the tip of the toe, you may add additional duct tape to the bottom of the foot to make your boot last a bit longer.

Sarah L Rhoades DVM, is a graduate of the University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced general equine medicine in the St Louis area for the last 6 years and has also performed regulatory racetrack work. Dr Rhoades is licensed to work in Missouri and Illinois and is located west of St Louis in Franklin County, Missouri. Sarah enjoys riding barrel horses and ranch western performance.
Sarah L Rhoades DVM, is a graduate of the University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced general equine medicine in the St Louis area for the last 6 years and has also performed regulatory racetrack work. Dr Rhoades is licensed to work in Missouri and Illinois and is located west of St Louis in Franklin County, Missouri. Sarah enjoys riding barrel horses and ranch western performance.




Sarah L Rhoades DVM, is a graduate of the University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced general equine medicine in the St Louis area for the last 6 years and has also performed regulatory racetrack work. Dr Rhoades is licensed to work in Missouri and Illinois and is located west of St Louis in Franklin County, Missouri. Sarah enjoys riding barrel horses and ranch western performance.


Be aware that the views expressed here are one veterinarian’s opinion and that medical diagnosis, treatment, and advice should be obtained through a good veterinary-client-patient relationship.

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