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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Shull

Preventing Soreness: A Guide to Poultice, Liniment, and Other Remedies

We all want our horses to feel and perform their best. During the show season,

the stress of travel, grueling long days, and unforgiving concrete poses a substantial

threat to our equine partner’s comfort. There are some show-legal medications that can

be administered, such as Bute, Banamine, and Equioxx; but that is not always enough.

Thankfully, there are additional steps we can take to combat inflammation, muscle

fatigue, and other symptoms impacting our equine athletes. Let’s explore some natural

remedies; what they are, how to use them, and how they help.


Poultice

Have you seen the horses with that funny white stuff on their legs? That’s

poultice! Poultice is a moist, clay-based product meant to draw out heat and reduce

inflammation. Some brands use additives, such as aloe vera and epsom salt, to provide

additional benefits or serve as an antiseptic. That said, it is important to review the

ingredients and make sure they are legal for your breed organization.


Using poultice is easy. Simply apply a thick layer, approximately ¼”, over the

treatment area, leave on for 6-12 hours to dry, and rinse off. When applying to the legs,

it is recommended to cover with plastic or wet paper and wrap to prolong the benefits.

This works by keeping the leg cool and delaying the drying time of the poultice, which is

how it draws out heat.


In addition to the legs, frequently treated areas include the knees, hocks, stifles,

and back. These areas are not normally wrapped, but still receive much benefit from the

treatment. As a useful aside, medicated poultices are often used to help draw out hoof

abscesses.

Liniment

Liniments are another tool for reducing muscle soreness, but the use case is

much broader. Some liniments contain cooling agents, like menthol, that can cool and

soothe the muscles. Others promote warmth and can help relax stiff muscles. Most

liniments can be used in a couple ways. As a brace, apply undiluted to the affected area

and wrap where able. Alternatively, liniment can be mixed with water to reduce the

strength and be used after workouts to help prevent soreness.


Copper-Infused Therapy

Copper-infused fabrics are well known in the medical field for their ability to

increase circulation and aid in healing. In fact, there are a variety of copper-infused

products made for people, so it is no surprise that horses can utilize the same

technology, with some tweaks of course! Many different products are made for horses,

ranging from leg wraps, bell boots, hock wraps, and sheets.


These products are less time consuming to use than poultice or liniment and are

easy to use throughout the show day. Making them a great option for the all-around

exhibitor looking for relief between classes. A sheet can be used in tandem with other

remedies to provide full body therapy overnight.


Magnetic Therapy

Similar to copper-infused fabrics, magnetic therapy is another multi-use tool for

combating soreness. A variety of products are made with low-power magnets that boost

circulation and reduce inflammation. Ultimately leading to a decrease in muscle tension

and soreness. One important note about magnetic therapy; it is not recommended to

leave these products on for an extended period of time. In fact, sessions should be short

initially and gradually increase in duration as the horse becomes accustomed to the

therapy. Although magnets may not be suitable as an overnight treatment, they can be a powerful tool for post-exercise recovery.


Light Therapy

There are a variety of LED and Red light therapy devices you can invest in for

your equine partner. Although these do boast a higher price tag than the

aforementioned therapies, the benefits of light treatments are well documented.

Without getting into the nitty gritty, these therapies work by stimulating blood flow and

increasing oxygen saturation in the treatment area. Overall, reducing inflammation,

speeding healing, and providing pain relief. Typical treatments only last 20-30 minutes

once a day per area. The short application time, and lack of wrapping needed makes

light therapy ideal for those hard to cover areas; like stifles, withers, and others.


Some housekeeping, it is important to try all therapies at home, prior to a show,

to check for any allergic reactions. Be sure to read all ingredients and make sure they are safe to use for your governing organization. It is not recommended to use all of these therapies together, instead try some out and see what works best for your horse! Please remember that is not veterinary advice and you should consult your vet for any

soundness concerns.


Our equine partners work hard for us, so it’s only fair that we work hard to keep

them comfortable! Keep these therapies in mind for your next show and perform your

best.

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