Epsom Salt Poultices for Horses

By Mary Lougee

An Epsom salt poultice draws heat from skin, joints and muscles, reduces itching in insect bites and draws infection from hoof abscesses in horses.

Epsom Salt Poultices

Commercial poultices with Epsom salt as the main ingredient are beneficial for equine use in several ways. The salt naturally draws infection from hoof abscesses and soothes bruised hoofs. An Epsom salt poultice also soothes muscles, leg and joint soreness and reduces swelling in these areas. This type of poultice also relieves the irritation of insect bites.

Poultice Leg Applications

To apply the poultice on a horse's leg or legs for muscle, joint or leg swelling, put on a disposable glove and place a thick layer of the poultice on the area. Wrap the leg or joint with rolled cotton batting and tape it in place with duct tape.

Insect Bites Application

For insect bites on your equine companion, put a thin layer of the poultice on each welt, covering it completely, while wearing disposable gloves. There is no need to cover it with bandages, due to the multiple areas that you are making applications. If your horse decides to try to lick the area, the poultice is not harmful -- though he likely will not like the salty taste after one lick. The poultice draws heat from the site and keeps your horse comfortable so he doesn't rub the insect bites on fences or stall walls and possibly get them infected.

Hoof Applications

Apply the poultice on the bottom of your horse's foot including the sole and the frog; this is the entire bottom of the hoof and the hoof walls. Place a boot on your horse to hold the poultice in place and leave it on for 36 to 48 hours.

You can make a custom boot for your horse if you don't have one on hand.

Things you will need

  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Disposable glove
  • Hoof pick
  • Hoof brush
  • Gauze
  • Veterinarian wrap

Place strips of duct tape on a wall with each additional strip overlapping the previous by one-half the width. Make the strips to cover about one foot horizontally. Add additional tape strips vertically on top of the horizontal layer to make a one-foot square.

Cut the four corners about 3 inches from the corner toward the center of the square.

Put on a disposable glove and lift the affected hoof. Clean the bottom with a hoof pick and brush. Apply a layer of the poultice to the bottom of the hoof.

Place a layer of gauze on top of the poultice. Hold the gauze in place and wrap the hoof with veterinarian wrap to cover the gauze and the hoof up to the top of the hoof. Tear off any excess veterinarian wrap and smooth the tip down so it sticks to itself.

Place the duct tape square on the hoof with the sticky side touching the veterinarian wrap. Fold the front, the back and then the two sides over the hoof smoothing the duct tape down with overlapping corners at the cut areas.

Put your horse's foot on the ground and add duct tape to cover the exposed veterinarian wrap to make it waterproof. Check the tightness of the veterinarian wrap at the top of the hoof. One finger should be able to fit easily between the top of the wrap and the horse's skin. If it is snug, clip a slit in the top of the wrap to loosen it.

  • Epsom salt poultices do not blister skin.
  • Leave the poultice on your horse for 36 to 48 hours in each type of application.
  • Make your own homemade poultice by adding a small amount of warm water to make a thick paste.