Poultice for horses – a soothing, cooling treatment


A poultice is an inexpensive and easy-ish way to support your horse’s hard-working legs. It works to cool the legs and help after a workout. 

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  • Poultice is a clay or salt-based paste that is spread on the lower legs (typically) to draw out heat and inflammation.


  • The clay-based poultice is usually pretty thick and needs to stay sealed in its container, or it will dry out.  You may be able to revive crusty poultice with water. 


  • A salt-based poultice has Epsom salt as the main ingredient and is usually green.



The green Epsom-based poultice is also great to use as a hoof goop.


Types of poultices for horses


  • The clay-based variety of poultice for horses is usually used on legs; the Epsom salt variety is usually used on the hoof.


  • I have used the green salt variety on the legs, but the green color is not easy to remove and will stain your horse’s coat.


  • You can use poultice after a heavy workout or with a swollen tendon or ligament. You can also use a poultice to soothe hooves and to help draw out an abscess in the hoof.


  • Of course, talk to your veterinarian if you suspect a hoof issue or abscess – it may be super easy or more horrible than you think. Abscesses also need a hole to track to drain before a poultice will do any good.


Use a lot.  You can’t use too much, probably. 



  • Poultice is one instance in which I like to apply more, just to be sure the entire leg is covered.



  • I will also cover the front of the cannon bone. Oh, and use gloves. Nothing worse than picking dry clay from under your fingernails.




Poultice is perfectly fine to go overboard with! Add a bit of water in your hand to smooth things out if you like before you wrap it up.




Damp paper, newspaper, feed bag lining, paper towel, etc. all work well!



Then wrap the leg.


  • The next step is to wrap the leg with some sort of paper, then a quilt and a standing wrap.


  • I like wet newspaper or the paper lining of a feed bag to go under a standing wrap.


  • Paper towels also work, but I wouldn’t wet them; they fall apart.


  • Then quilt and wrap your horse’s legs, and you are ready.


  • In the morning, unwrap in the stall and do most of the clay removal in the stall, to keep the barn aisle clean. Dried poultice crumbs tend to be really hard to remove from mats! I use grooming gloves to remove the dried poultice; this makes things quick and easy.  You can also rinse the poultice away.



Dried poultice comes off easily with grooming gloves. No need to rinse!





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