How long does it take for a horse to return back to soundness after the abscess has burst?
For most horses, once an abscess ruptures the relief from acute lameness is almost instantaneous, and residual tenderness will disappear in about 24 hours. For severe and more chronic abscesses though, recovery time can be several days and even a few weeks. This is because the abscess pressure creates a lot of local inflammation and also can compress and deform the adjacent tissues, which then take a while to bounce back to normal condition. Other horses suffer from lingering soreness because the abscess does not drain completely before closing over, resulting in repeat episodes of pain and drainage. In some instances, there is necrotic tissue or a damaged spot of coffin bone that forms a nidus of infection and will continue to drain until the revitalized tissue is gone. Your veterinarian can assist this process by surgically opening and scraping away the problematic tissue. If your horse has ruptured and drained an abscess but is still significantly lame, it may be worth having your vet take look and obtain some X-rays to see if there are any additional problems in the foot.
Melissa McKee DVM