07-02-2012, 03:18 AM
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Hoof horn is indeed like fingernails. It can indeed get infected. That's called 'seedy toe' or 'whiteline disease'. Abscesses however are when an infection or injury affects the live tissue - the corium underneath the horn. You can think of it as a pimple or a blood blister... under your fingernail - ouch!
Abscesses can come about from stone bruises to thin soles & frogs, injury to the wall or coronary border, laminitis, separation, cracks, infection(seedy toe), overlong &/or imbalanced walls, contracted hooves, etc. Sometimes they can come about from puncture wounds.
As you can see, abscesses can be a 'one off' accidental type affair or they can signify major underlying issues. If your horse is lame in both feet or 'prone' to abscesses, it's likely there's something going wrong that is causing them.
Where abouts were the abscesses & more details needed if you want any specific opinions on them.