Advice, How to Guides

How To Poultice A Horse’s Hoof

Being able to poultice a horses hoof is an essential for every equestrian. We have created a step by step guide on the do and don’t to help you achieve the perfect poultice.

Sign on an abscess and how to prevent it?

A common cause of lameness, more so in the wetter condition following a long dry period, is a hoof abscess. This is also know as a pus in the foot.  An abscess can occurs when tiny cracks appear in the dry hoof wall. It allows moisture, dirt and bacteria to get in. An infection can then be cause due to this. A build up of pus within the restricting hoof cavity will quickly become very painful. The horse/pony will come across very lame and can be worrying for the owner. They will find it hard to put their foot to the floor. This may appear like that have done lasting damage to their leg.

Other sign to look out for:

  • Keep an eye out for intermittent lameness that becomes more pronounced
  • The horse not wanting to bears weight on the affected leg
  • More weight may be carried on the toe to protect the heel. They may also rest the leg more than usual
  • The affected hoof will feel hotter than the others
  • Try to feel for a digital pulse towards the back of either side of the fetlock
  • The infected hoofs’ leg may become filled and swollen
  • If the abscess is not drain then it will eventually burst through the coronary band. You may then need a vet to come out and check to avoid further infection

How To Poultice A Horse’s HoofThe age old say “no foot, no horse” and it’s as true today as it always has been. Thought the summer month try to keep you horse hooves in good condition. Here is some supplement to stop your horse getting cracks in their hoof. It designed to keep your horse’s hoof in tip top condition.

Preventing a hoof abscess can be difficult and it can not be helped sometimes. Most horse owners will experiences this at some point whilst owning a horse. Some horses more proven to it than others. The best way to try and prevent this from happen are:

  • Regular visit from your farrier no more than 8 weeks apart. The farrier will remove unhealthy hoof tissue. They can also be your first point of call if you think your horse has an abscess. The Farriers will be able to dig around to help relive any pressure.
  • Keep your horse’s environment clean and dry
  • Apply hoof hardeners in the winter to prevent their hooves getting too soft

What is a poultice?

A poultice is a type of dressing that is put onto the horse hoof. It is designed to draw out an abscess that has formed. It normally comes in the shape of an horses hoof. Place into boiling water and and allow to cool before applying. This should be changed daily using a wet poultice for two/three days before switching to a dry one to keep the area clean. Depending to the severity of the abscess and the horses progress this should be kept on for a minimum of three days. Ask a vet or farrier if after a few days there has been no signs of improvement.

How to apply a poultice and what you need

Here is our step by step guide on how to apply a poultice for a visual run thought check out RVC Equine Referral Hospital below:

Top Prepping Tips:

  • If you haven’t got a poultice that has been cut to shape make sure you do this first and leave to soak in boiling  water. Allow the water to cool down before getting the poultice out.
  • Cut the heavy duty tape in strip ranging from 5 -10cm depending on the size of the horses hood. You will need a number of these to go over the vet tape to hold everything in place and stop the horse hoof coming though. In this case the more you put on the better.
  • Make sure you have everything to hand layer. Once you have picked up your horses hoof you ideally do not want to put it down until you have finished.

Top tip to remember:  Applying a poultice is down to personal preference. It can be done differently depending how you’ve been shown. However, the overall process doesn’t change.   

What you need:  

  • Scissors
  • Hoof poultice
  • Heavy duty tape
  • Clean warm water and a plastic container
  • Vet Wrap
  • Farrier knife

Now you are prepared here is what you need to do step by step to get your horse back on the road to recovery.

  1. Make sure the horse infected hoof has been cleaned thoroughly before you start. It must be clean and dry.
  2. Using a Farriers knife, if you can source when the infection enter, try cutting into it to allow the puss to escape into the poultice. It should be a darker area that feels a lot hotter than the rest of the hoof. If you either do not feel comfortable doing this or have’t done it before ask your farrier for help.
  3. If you are using a wet poultice remove from the bowl of water whilst squeezing the excess water out and apply to the foot.
  4. Wrap a layer of soft padding such as Gamgee or Soffban bandage over the top of the poultice and around the hoof, focusing your attention to cushioning soft tissue areas like the heel bulbs and the coronary band.
  5. Now apply the Vet wrap around the hoof to hold it all in place. You don’t want it too tight to cause pressure over the soft tissues, but not too loose so it will fall off.
  6. Now use the heavy duty strips that you have already prep cut placing in a star like pattern at first. Make sure there is more coverage over the toe where it is more light to break though. This will create a waterproof layer and will keep any dirty out.
  7. Change the poultice at least once a day, or more if there’s a lot of pus coming out.
  8. Only use a wet poultice for two to three days at a time, then switch to a dry poultice

Top tip to remember: look out for any swelling coming up the pastern, as this can be a sign that the infection is going up the leg. Contact your vet immediately if this start to happen. 

Watch and learn how to apply a poultice to a horse from one of our experts at the RVC Equine Referral Hospital

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