There are many times when you will want to apply standing wraps on your horse — they are useful for shipping, for supporting a leg after an injury (compression can help reduce swelling) or for protecting a leg that has a wound. However, it’s very important to learn proper techniques for wrapping a horse.
Wrapping correctly takes some practice. If you wrap too tightly, you can create pressure points that can be harmful. It’s even possible to damage a tendon and /or tendon sheath with a bandage if there is a thin area of constriction under the bandage. If you wrap too loosely, the bandage will not provide support, and it can slip down on your horse’s leg and may even unravel.
- Start with clean, dry legs and bandages.
- If there is a wound, make sure it has been properly cleaned, rinsed and dressed according to your veterinarian’s recommendations.
- Use a thickness of an inch or more of soft, clean padding to protect the leg beneath the bandage.
- Apply padding so it lies flat and wrinkle-free against the skin.
- Start the wrap at the inside of the cannon bone above the fetlock joint. Do not begin or end over a joint as movement will tend to loosen the bandage and cause it to come unwrapped.
- Wrap the leg from front to back, outside to inside (counterclockwise in left legs, clockwise in right legs).
- Wrap in a spiral pattern, working down the leg and up again, overlapping the preceding layer by 50 percent.
- Use smooth, uniform pressure on the support bandage to compress the padding. Make sure no lumps or ridges form beneath the bandage.
- Be careful not to wrap the legs too tightly, creating pressure points.
- Avoid applying bandages too loosely. If loose bandages slip, they will not provide proper support and may endanger the horse.
- When used for protection, leg padding and bandages should extend below the coronet band of the hoof to protect the area (especially important when trailering).
- Extend the bandages to within one half inch of the padding at the top and bottom.
Tips & Warnings
- Don’t use polo wraps instead of standing wraps. Polos are made from a stretchy material and it is easy to over tighten them and/or cause pressure points.
- Practice, practice and practice some more. Wrapping a horse isn’t difficult but it can take you some time before you can get even tension and a properly applied wrap.
- Ask an experienced equestrian (your trainer, vet, etc.) to check your first attempts and evaluate them. You do NOT want to cause a new problem while trying to help your horse.
If you are someone who learns better by watching, here’s a very good video that demonstrates bandaging techniques. Event better, you can download this video onto your Iphone or Ipod Touch so that you can bring it to the barn to watch it!