Being able to poultice a horse’s hoof is essential for every equestrian. We have created a step by step guide on the do and don’t to help you produce 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 known as pus in the foot.  An abscess can occur when tiny cracks appear in the dry hoof wall. It allows moisture, dirt, and bacteria to get in. This can then follow by an infection. A build-up of pus within the restricting hoof cavity will very quickly will become very painful. The horse 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 no weight on the affected leg
More weight may be carried on the toe to protect the heel. They may also rest that leg more than usual
The affected foot 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 drained then it will eventually burst through the coronary band. You may then need a vet to come out and check to avoid more injection.


Thought the summer month try to keep you horse hoof in good condition. Here is some supplement to stop your getting cracks in their hoof. It also keeps your horse’s hoof in tip-top condition. The age-old say “no foot, no horse” and it’s as true today as it always has been. 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 are more proven to it than others. The best way to try and prevent this from happening are:

A regular visit from your farrier, not more than 8 weeks apart. The farrier will remove unhealthy hoof tissue and any horn that holds mud in a defect. They can also be your first point of call if you think your horse has an abscess. The Farriers will be about to dig around to help relieve any pressure.
Keep your horse’s environment clean and dry
Apply hoof hardeners before extreme weather changes

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 a horses hoof and is places in cooled boiled water 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 cerarity of the abscess and the horse’s 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 out 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. By the time you come to place it onto the horse hoof it would have cooled down and will be ready to apply.
Cut the heavy duty tape in strip about ranging from 5 -10cm depending on the size of the horses hood. You will need a number of these to got 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 foot you ideal do not want to put it down until you have finished.

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

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 horseback on the road to recovery.

Make sure the horse infected hoof has been cleaned thoroughly before you start. It must be clean and dry.
Using a Farriers knife if you can source when the infection enter try cutting into it to allow it to escape into the poultice. It should be a darker area that feel a lot hotter than the fest of the hoof.If you either do not feel comfortable doing this or cant fine it ask your farrier or leave it and the abscess should find it way out.
If you are using a wet poultice removed from the was boiled water and squeezes the excess water and apply to the foot.
Wrap a layer of soft padding such as Gamgee or Soffban bandage over the top of the poultice and around the foot focus your attention to cushioning soft tissue areas like the heel bulbs and the coronary band.
Now apply the Vet wrap around the hoof to hold it all in place. Cause you don’t want it too tight to cause pressure over the soft tissues, but not too loose either as it will fall off.
Now use the heavy duty strips that you have already prep cut placing in a start like pattern at first. Make sure their is more coverage over the toe when it is more light to break though. This will create a create a waterproof layer and to keep the dirty out.
Change the poultice at least once a day, or more if there’s a lot of pus coming out.
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
See video here
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