Pictured Above: A bilge cloth — or oil-absorbent sheets — can offer a cleaner application of hoof packing.

Farriers around the world swear by the great benefits that hoof packing offers to equine feet. They also swear at the sticky mess that often results. Is there a better way to apply hoof packing under pads without it ending up all over you, your tools and anything else within reach?

Some farriers use a putty knife, others use latex gloves and many use both. Randolph, Mass., farrier Mary Bramley says she found the perfect solution while attending the “Pad Application And Use” Roundtable at the 15th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“One of the farriers shared that using a ‘bilge cloth’ when applying a pad will keep the farrier’s hands clean,” she says.

What’s a bilge cloth? Those who own a boat might know. A bilge cloth is a sheet that soaks up petroleum-based fluids — oil, gasoline, solvents, vegetable oils and other non-soluble chemicals. Boat owners use them to clean up oil and gas spills in bilges or engine rooms. The best part? It repels water.

“This farrier said that you cut a small piece of the cloth, scoop up some hoof packing from its container, press it onto the hoof (cloth and all) and apply the shoe with the full pad,” Bramley explains. “The bilge cloth allows the product to reach the hoof but leaves water behind. The product reaches the hoof, but the water doesn’t.”

The sheets come in a variety of sizes and counts. A package of five in sizes 17” x 19” x 3/8” costs about $6, while a 15” x 19” case of 200 can cost about $43.

“I hadn’t heard of this method before,” Bramley says, “and thought it was a neat trick for working with a super sticky product.”

What’s your go-to application of hoof packing? Share your tips in the comment section.