Horses make amazing athletes. They can experience sprains, strains, and sore muscles much like human players do. A frequent tool in a horse owner’s toolbox for treating these minor exercise-related ailments is a poultice. On horses, poultices are most frequently applied to the legs and hooves.
How Do Poultices Work?
Poultices are spreadable, thick substances that are applied to the body and secured in place with a bandage. A poultice’s primary function is to serve as a drawing agent. Heat, inflammation, and swelling—the three main aftereffects of exercise—can be reduced with its assistance. Poultices can aid in the beginning of the healing process and stop future harm by easing these sensations.
For poulticing the lower part of the limb, products with a clay or Epsom salt basis are highly popular. They lessen the likelihood of swollen and painful muscles by keeping the leg cold and tight after exercise. In both handmade and store-bought poultices, additional additives like comfrey, arnica, and witch hazel are frequently present.
Epsom salts, ichthammol, or a combination of sugar and betadine are frequently used in hoof poultices (sugardine). When a hoof abscess or bruising is detected, these poultices are frequently applied. They aid in drawing out infection and bleeding.
When Should a Horse’s Leg Be Poulticed?
After workouts and tournaments, limb poultices are extremely helpful. They are normally used following a thorough bathing and cooling down of the horse. After that, the poultice is placed and left on for the night. When a horse is competing over a number of days, poulticing aids in the horse’s limbs recovering more quickly.
A different situation where poultices can be beneficial is hoof abscesses. They are typically used after a hoof abscess has been identified by the veterinarian as the cause of the lameness or when it first becomes apparent. Hoof poultices should be applied again every 1-3 days or as your veterinarian advises until the abscess clears up.
How Should a Poultice Be Applied to a Horse?
For maximum effectiveness, poultices should be applied abundantly and tightly wrapped. The following supplies are possible to keep on hand for poulticing:
Bandage strips or gauze pads
Diapers (for hoof wrapping) (for hoof wrapping)
sticky tape (for hoof wrapping)
Here are some general guidelines for applying most poultices to a horse’s limb; remember to also pay attention to the instructions on the product’s packaging. Additionally, horse owners who are unfamiliar with using poultices should speak with a veterinarian to make sure the technique used won’t cause the wrap to be too tightly wrapped.
To the desired area, liberally apply your preferred poultice.
Wrap the entire poulticed region with a thick layer of gauze padding or bandage, adding one inch on either end (this step is very important to help prevent over-tightening).
Apply the vet wrap evenly, snugly, and without overtightening; leave approximately an inch of gauze exposed on either end.
To prevent shavings or debris from penetrating the bandage, you can optionally cap both ends of the bandage with elastikon. Gently distribute half on the skin and half on the gauze. (NOTE: Elastikon shouldn’t be stretched before or while being applied because it is very simple to over-tighten.)
While the method for poulticing hooves differs slightly from that for limbs, many of the same ideas still hold true.
To the sole and/or coronary band of the affected hoof, liberally apply the chosen poultice. For a less messy poultice experience, an Animalintex poultice pad can be moistened and put to the sole as an alternative.
Over the entire poulticed region, apply a thick layer of gauze padding/bandage or a diaper.
To hold the gauze and poultice in place on the foot’s sole and hoof wall, wrap vet wrap over the area. On the hoof itself, over-tightening is not a problem, but if the bandage covers the coronary band in any way, care must be taken to keep the wrapping loose.
Duct tape is used to make a square that is bigger than your horse’s hoof print. Use more duct tape to smooth the edges and increase the bottom of your wrap’s durability after adhering this directly to your horse’s sole.
To avoid shavings or debris going beneath the bandage, you can optionally seal the end of the bandage around the coronary band/pastern with Elastikon. Put half on the skin and half on the gauze/vet wrap. (NOTE: Elastikon shouldn’t be stretched before or while being applied because it is very simple to over-tighten.)
Taking off the poultice
Start by carefully clearing away any shavings, mud, or other debris that may have gathered on the bandage or wraps over night before removing a poultice from a horse. The poultice will have dried fully underneath the coverings. Use a brush or a pair of grooming gloves to gently brush away the dried clay-like substance.