When I was at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon, Manitoba, I poulticed my horse’s legs after extra strenuous days. If you’ve never applied a poultice before and you’re looking for some instruction and tips, keep reading.
How does it work?
Poultice draws heat out of the muscles and ligaments that run along the cannon bone. The cool clay treats suspensory heat, inflammation and shin soreness following rigorous exercise. At a horse show, most riders will put the poultice on at night and then remove it in the morning. The poultice goes on wet, and after several hours, the heat from the leg dries the clay. In the morning, you can chip the dry clay off with a sweat scraper and then rinse any residue away with a horse.
If your poultice is still damp in the morning, congratulations! Your horse had little to no heat in his legs.
TIP: Your poultice only needs to cover the ligaments that run along the sides and back of the cannon bone. Save poultice by leaving the front of the cannon bone bare. You also don’t need to poultice the fetlock unless you have specific cause to.
You will need
- A poultice product of your choice
- Brown paper or disposable shop towels
- Standing bandage
- A bucket of cold water
Make sure your horse’s leg is clean and dry. Dip your hands in the water and then scoop up a palm-sized amount of poultice. Flatten it into a pancake and then press it onto your horse’s leg. The poultice will stick to the dry leg, but it won’t stick to your wet hands. Gently smooth the poultice out so it is 1/4 in. thick. Dip your hands in the water again and repeat. Cover the leg from the bottom of the knee to the top of the fetlock joint.
Once the leg is fully covered, wrap the leg with a layer of brown paper or a disposable towel. Smooth out any wrinkles, then cover with a quilt and bandage as you normally would. The purpose of the paper/towel is to keep your quilt clean.
Have you poulticed your horse’s legs before? Do you have any tips or advice? If so, please comment below.