The term poultice is derived from a Latin word for porridge. In the equine world, poultices are applied for the relief of localized pain, when caused by inflammation.
It is predominantly used on the lower legs of horses to benefit tendons, joints and ligaments. A hoof may be poulticed if there has been a traumatic injury, bruising and if abscesses arise. When utilizing a poultice for therapy, the goal is to reduce heat, inflammation and to aid in the healing process. The least amount of time an area is stressed by these elements the less damage there will be and the more it will aid in the longevity of your horse’s career.
The most prevalent type of poulticing is termed “cold” therapy and is composed of clays and bentonites. This application would minimize the inflammatory response to an early injury or overworked legs, and act as a pain reliever. For application, wet your hands and splash cold water on the injured site. Spread ¼ to ½ inch of poultice onto anywhere you feel heat or swelling. If wounds are present alternative care may be needed. Cover the poulticed area with wet brown paper. Follow up by wrapping with wet cotton or bandages. The longer the poultice remains cool and wet the better it will draw heat and inflammation. Overnight application or longer is an option, maybe for that trailer ride home. Once you are ready to remove the wraps let the poultice dry fully. As it dries it will continue to pull excess fluid and heat. Brush the leg and follow with a cold water flush or bath. Cold water is an excellent tool for reducing heat and inflammation.