Recurrent abscesses are an indication of very unhealthy feet.(I'm hoping that's a no brainer!<G>) I would expect that your horse has weakened or separated laminae & thin soles. IME they are usually the product of laminitis/lamellar damage, or stone bruises. That they apparently happen(I assume you mean lameness/pain?) when it gets wet may be because the hooves soften then and so thin soles will be even less protection from stones. It may also be to do with circulation - the soft hooves are able to be more flexible despite the brace of the shoes, so more blood flow begins to push the crud out. But that is all conjecture without having further info. I'd be interested to see some hoof pics, one of the xrays(they likely show more than you think) and some more info on his management, feeding, etc. Specifically about the abscesses, please tell me whether they generally happen on the soles, frogs, coronet, or various places? And aside from wet weather after dry, what do they appear to follow? Eg. Do you ride on rough/hard ground? Do they happen soon after shoeing, or when the shoes have been on a while?
I think it sounds like you're treating the actual abscesses correctly. I would be soaking in epsom salts or ACV in water a couple of times a day when the horse becomes lame, to soften the horn & help draw it out. I'd do this for a day or so after the abscess has burst. I would be booting or otherwise protecting & supporting the horse's thin soles in order to prevent subsequent stone bruises and allow the horse *comfortable* support of frogs & soles & give him as much exercise as possible.
IME as a hoofcare practitioner who deals mostly with rehab, I find that conventional metal shoes are generally unhelpful & often cause further damage to sick feet. I would generally only consider using them on healthy feet, and would take them off this horse pronto & use boots/pads to protect him. If you do choose to keep him shod conventionally, then I would at least be using pads, to provide some protection & support to the bottom of his feet.
There are a number of factors which effect the feet, including *good* & frequent hoof trimming. Diet, nutrition, exercise and environment all play a huge part. There are many & varied 'experts' with many & varied levels of knowledge & skill, so make sure you have done your homework to at least have a fair idea what options & approaches there are and what 'experts' may be worth listening to. hoofrehab.com is a great place to start learning about hoof function & factors that effect their health.
Last edited by loosie; 01-17-2010 at 08:06 PM.