Poulticing without the vets help

Recently my horse has put himself in the unfortunate situation of having to have his hoof poulticed every day. Unfortunately money cannot just be printed and having the vet come to do it is just unrealistic. I have found a very easy way of poulticing and wanted to share it.

What you will need:

  • a friend, groom or other handy person
  • a plastic sheet (or  your horses clean rain sheet
  • nappies (the ‘new born’ ones will only be suitable for ponies and not horses)
  • duct tape (from hard ware stores)
  • elastic bandage tape (the widest you can find)
  • scissors (preferably with a round point so as not to poke your horse)
  • the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal or whatever medicine your vet has given you (often Magnesium Sulfate)

How to do it:

Firstly, your vet should have put the first poultice on which would be a more intricate version of the poultice you will make. What you need to do is get the poultice off as cleanly as possible so as not to get the foot dirty. Using your horses rain sheet as an under mat to work on is ideal for keeping the hoof clear of bedding or dirt.

Once the foot is out of the poultice make sure that you inform your friend of the steps you are about to take in completing this task. They are your ‘nurse’ and should be passing things to you while you hold your horses foot up (preferably on your knee for maximum comfort for all involved).

Wither horses foot in hand open up the nappy and put it over his foot. The length of it should run from the front of his leg (what will be in your hand if your are picking his hoof up as if to pick it out) over the bottom of his hoof and almost closed. Poor in the ointment or gel that your vet has given you to use into the nappy then close it over your horses pastern using the sticky tabs on the nappy.

Your horse will probably be fed up but DON’T let him put his foot down at this point. Get your friend to hand you the elastic sticky bandage and wrap it around your horse’s hoof, particularly his toe and heels. You don’t need to cover his entire foot if you don’t want to but this just secures the nappy in place.

Duct tape now becomes your best friend. It will be the waterproofing for your poultice and keep everything together. Start by having your friend put small strips down the length of the bottom of the hoof. Then wrap some long peaces around your horses toe and edge of his foot, this is the place where it is most likely to wear through. Then continue to cover the whole hoof/nappy in tape. Go crazy with it.

Lastly to make sure nothing comes into the poultice from above at the pastern go around the top of the poultice with some of the bandage tape (over your horses actual leg under his fetlock.

Other tips and tricks:

  • If your poultice has come apart when you go to do the next one, simply soak his foot in warm water with about a cup of Epsom salts in it to get it clean the dry the foot off with a towel.
  • If bad weather is on its way but a plastic bag over the foot before you put duct tape on it. It should be a sandwich bag that is made of thick clear plastic.
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