There may be times when you need to wrap your horse’s legs. Your horse might need the support and protection of shipping bandages when traveling in a trailer. Alternatively, your horse might have an injury that requires protection. Polo bandages are often used as support while driving, riding or lunging.
Wrapping a horse’s legs must be done very carefully. More harm than good can come of a bad wrapping job. If the wraps are applied to tightly, blood flow can be restricted, and tendons and ligaments can be damaged. Wraps should be checked frequently and changed at least twice a day. If the wraps are applied too loosely, a horse may injure itself if it becomes entangled or frightened of the object dangling from it’s leg.
Re-rolling the Wrap
To begin, your wraps must be rolled correctly. This is something I always mess up, and usually end up rolling opposite to the way it should be. When you buy your wraps, the hook and loop fasteners (or on older wraps, lace ties) will be to the outside. This is a nice convenient way to display and store the wraps, but it’s backwards to the way they should be applied. Unroll the wraps, (preferably where the ground or floor is clean as you don’t want to pick up straw, twigs or grass that if wrapped in, will irritate your horse’ legs) and let them lay flat on a surface (ground, floor, big table etc…)
Hold onto the end of the wrap that has the hook and loop fastener. As you wrap, you want the fastener to be on the inside of the roll. Start by holding the wrap so that the soft loop side of the fastener is facing you. Fold the long tag of hook fastener back, so the back (not the hook side) lays against the loop portion of the fastener (it shouldn’t actually attach). Now roll the wrap towards you. Roll it evenly and snugly, as a loose wrap is harder to put on with the right pressure. If you’re storing the rolled wrap, you can fold the free end up, and tuck it into the last roll of the wrap to prevent it coming unrolled.
Polo Wraps or Exercise Banadages
There are differences in opinion about where polo wraps should start. Because polo wraps are shorter than stable wraps, I like to start at the top of the canon bone on the front leg, or just below the hock on the rear. Start wrapping a polo wrap just below the knee. Place the free end of the wrap along the inside of the leg, and wrap forwards under the front of the knee. Continue to wrap down and around the horse’s leg with even pressure. You may wish to protect your horse’s fetlock by wrapping below the joint. If you do this, you’ll find the bandage bulges at the back of the leg slightly as you round the curve of the joint. Bring the wrap back upwards so it forms an upside-down v at the front of the cannon bone, and wrap twice around the fetlock to hold the bandage firmly and smoothly. Continue wrapping back upwards until you get to the center of the cannon bone, and can do up the hook and loop fastener. Ideally, you want the fastener to be on the outside of the leg, where it won’t catch on the fastener or wrap on the opposite leg and come undone.
Applying stable bandages is much the same except that you will be wrapping over a cotton pad. Place a short edge of the rectangular cotton pad so that it lies down the inside of the horse’s leg. Wrap it forward just as you would the leg wrap. When you’re wrapped the cotton around the leg, hold it firmly as you start putting on the actual wrap. Start in the center, as this holds the cotton on easier. Wrap downwards to protect the fetlock and then back up again. You may finish at the top, or need to make a few wraps back down towards the center to fasten the bandages. The most important thing is not to too tightly, and that the wrap is even top to bottom and on all legs.
Securing the Wraps
If the wraps leave lines on your horse’s legs when they’re removed this is an indication that the bandage was on too tight. Wrapping is a skill that takes practice. Coordinating your hands to apply the bandage over a cotton pad can be awkward, and you may need a few tries before you get it just right. Practice on your own leg or someone’s arm so you understand how much tension you are putting on as you wrap your horse’s leg. Because you can cause damage with a poor wrapping job, this is something you should work on with a coach or instructor who can guide you.More about Leg Wraps or Bandages: