How to Apply a Sugar Poultice for a Horse

Close-up of horse hooves.
Close-up of horse hooves. (Image: rollover/iStock/Getty Images)

A sugar poultice has a variety of uses. It can help draw out an infection, or abscess, in the hoof, reduce inflammation and ease the pain of foot bruising after working on hard surfaces. Sugar poultices have a long history of use to relieve hoof problems in horses. Fortunately, a sugar poultice is easy to apply and hard to mess up. You can make it even more simple by assembling all of your materials ahead of time and having a helper.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Betadine solution
  • White sugar
  • Plastic bowl or container
  • Disposable diaper
  • Duct tape
  • Self-adhesive bandage wrap
  • Scissors

Sweep the grooming area where you plan to apply the poultice, so your horse's hoof will stay clean during the process. If you don't have a hard surface where you groom your horse, have a section of newspaper or an old towel that you can set your horse's hoof on while working on him.

Prepare a duct tape square. You will put this on your horse's hoof after applying the poultice, but it is much easier to make it ahead of time, before you get your hands in the sugar mixture. Tear or cut six strips of duct tape, about 6 inches long. Place them parallel to each other, slightly overlapping, so they stick together. Repeat the process, making a second layer, with the strips running in the opposite direction. You should have a 6-inch duct tape square, two layers thick, when you are done. Put it somewhere where it will stay clean, so it will stick, but where you can get to it easily when you are ready for it.

Pick out your horse's hoof, then use a stiff bristled brush to clean the inside and outside of the hoof. Set the horse's hoof down while you prepare the poultice.

Pour approximately 1 cup of white sugar into the plastic container. Squirt a small amount of betadine into the sugar, stirring it as you do. Keep adding betadine until the sugar mixture is the consistency of porridge.

Spread the sugar mixture onto the inside of the disposable diaper. You will be placing this against the sole of your horse's hoof, so when spreading the sugar mixture, concentrate it in the center of the diaper. Your horse's weight will press the mixture up into the crevices of the hoof when he puts weight on it.

Lift your horse's hoof and place the diaper against the sole. Pull the edges of the diaper up and secure the pieces of tape on the outside of the hoof wall.

Wrap the sole and wall of the hoof with self-adhesive bandaging material. Keep the bandage tight enough to prevent bedding and dirt from getting down in the diaper, but loose enough so that you don't restrict circulation. You should be able to slip a finger into the top of the bandage when your horse's hoof is on the ground.

Place the duct tape square over the bottom of the hoof, pull the edges up along the hoof wall and press all around to secure in place. You may want to add a few more wraps of duct tape along the hoof wall, close to the ground, to help it last a little longer.

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