It’s true to say that most lameness originates in the horse’s foot. Common causes include: bruising to the sole, an abscess caused by an infected puncture wound, laminitis or an injury following shoeing. If an abscess is to blame, you’ll need to know how to make and apply a poultice to draw any infection out of the foot.
To make a hot poultice you’ll need:
- a poultice (Animalintex or similar)
- sticky bandage
- duct tape
- warm water
- a clean plastic container
- roll of cotton wool or a nappy
How to make and apply a poultice:
- Begin by cleaning the hoof thoroughly – remember that the sole of the foot will come into contact with the poultice so it must be REALLY clean. Cut the poultice to size if necessary.
- Soak the poultice in warm water. Squeeze out any excess liquid then press the medicated side against the sole of the foot.
- Use the nappy or cotton wool to wrap around the hoof and pastern. This provides padding and evens out the pressure that will be applied by the bandage. Apply the sticky bandage so that the padding is covered and the poultice is held securely but not too tightly. Make sure that you can run your finger under the edge of the bandage.
- Apply a layer of waterproof tape over the whole thing for added protection and trim off any excess padding. You should change the poultice twice a day but your vet will advise you on this depending on the purpose of the poultice.
If your horse is to be turned out, you’ll need to invest in a poultice boot to protect the dressing and poultice while your horse is exercising in the field. Poultice boots are usually made of lightweight neoprene with Velcro fastenings and are easily and quickly fitted. Although they can be expensive to buy, you can use them over again and they make a useful addition to your first aid kit.
Always have a poultice in your first aid kit just in case. In an emergency, you can substitute bran mixed with warm water and sandwiched between layers of cotton wool. There are other poultice kits available like a kaolin mixture, but ready-made dressings are quicker, easier and less messy to prepare and apply.
If your horse goes lame and there is no obvious cause or injury, always consult your vet before you try to treat him yourself.
Image source: Horse and Hound
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