Poultices are used for allaying pain, promoting suppuration, softening horn or other tissues, and bringing on a healthy action in wounds. To be beneficial, they should be large, and always kept moist.
For applying poultices to the feet, a poultice-shoe, constructed as follows, may be used with advantage.
Take a circular piece of hard wood, a little longer and broader than a horse-shoe, and about one and a half inches thick. Get one surface of it rounded in a lathe, so that there may be a rise of about three-quarters of an inch in the centre, while the other surface remains flat. Round the circumference of the board have leather nailed so as to form a convenient boot for retaining the poultice, and similar to the one in ordinary use, except that the part which comes on the ground is rounded. The fact of its being round will enable the horse to whose feet it is applied to ease the affected spot by throwing weight on the toe, the heel, or on either quarter, as he chooses.
Poultices are usually made with bran, though this has the disadvantage of drying very quickly, to remedy which it may be mixed with linseed-meal or with a little linseed-oil. Boiled carrots or turnips mashed up make a good poultice, as does linseed-meal, when mixed with boiling water, and a little olive-oil added by stirring.
A charcoal poultice is sometimes used when there is a bad smell to be got rid of. It is made by adding linseed-meal to boiling water, and stirring until a soft mass is produced; with this some wood-charcoal in powder is mixed, and when ready to be applied some more powder is sprinkled on the surface.
It may be noted that, in lieu of these materials for poultices, the material known as spongio-piline can be usefully employed. A piece of sufficient size is steeped in hot water, applied to the part, covered with a large piece of oiled silk or waterproof stuff, and secured there. Even an ordinary sponge, steeped in hot water, and covered with any waterproof material, makes a good poulticing medium; it is well adapted for the throat, near the head, as well as for the space between the branches of the lower jaw.