Epsom salts, available at most tack shops, feed stores, and pharmacies, is magnesium sulfate. It’s chunkier than regular salt, and dissolves easily in water. In the horse world, epsom salts are commonly used for helping to treat a hoof abscess. When epsom salts get wet, the absorb moisture, which is the “drawing out” part of treating an abscess.
If your horse should come up lame, it’s prudent to call your Veterinarian. Hoof abscesses mimic a lot of other hoof problems, from bruises to punctures, to fractures to laminitis. An abscess also need to be located and hopefully a tract can be cut into the hoof to relieve the pressure and allow the pus to drain.
Epsom salts might then enter the picture, as they can only help with draining an abscess after a tract has been made. Without the tract there, the epsom salts are simply softening the hoof and sole of your horse.
You have some options here to use epsom salts on your horse. Most Vets will give you a formula of epsom slats, betadine, and hot water to create a soak. Your Vet will also give you the frequency and length of time to do the soaking.
You can also use an epsom salt packing in a hoof bandage, so that the epsom salts work ‘round the clock. This concoction is bright green, so be careful not to let it stain your clothes or your horse’s white legs. You can pack the paste in your horse’s sole, then wrap and bandage.
It’s always a good idea to have some epsom salts on hand, just in case!