Wrap it Right

Learn how to wrap a horse’s legs and the reasons why you should.

Learn how to wrap a horse’s legs and the reasons why you should.

wrapping a horses legs
A correct leg wrap can provide support for your horse’s tendons and ligaments. Journal photo.

To prevent tendon damage, wrap a horse’s leg from the inside around the front of the leg. This means wrapping clockwise on right legs and counterclockwise on left legs.

A leg wrap has the correct amount of tension if you can get two fingers under it below the pastern and one finger under the wrap at the top.

More on Bandaging

According to 3M Animal Care Products and the American Association of Equine Practitioners, there are many reasons to bandage your horse’s legs. Bandaging can provide both protection and support for the horse while working, traveling, resting or recovering from an injury.

It is essential that you use proper leg bandaging techniques. Applied incorrectly, bandages might not only fail to do their job, they can cause discomfort, restrict blood flow and potentially damage tendons and other tissue.

Reasons to Bandage

Leg bandages are beneficial for several reasons:

  • Provide support for tendons and ligaments during strenuous workouts
  • Prevent or reduce swelling (edema) after exercise, injury or during stall rest
  • Protect legs from concussion and impact
  • Shield leg wounds from contamination and aid in healing

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General bandaging guidelines from 3M Animal Care Products and AAEP

If you have never bandaged a horse’s legs before, ask your veterinarian or an experienced equine professional to demonstrate the proper techniques. Practice under his or her supervision before doing it on your own.

Follow these basic guidelines:

  • Remove dirt, debris, soap residue or moisture to prevent skin irritation and dermatitis.
  • 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 joints – 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.
  • 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.
  • Check bandages daily to make sure they are securely in place and not cutting off circulation.
  • If there is a potential problem with bedding or debris getting into the bandage, seal the openings with a loose wrap of flexible adhesive bandage such as Elastikon adhesive tape.
  • Rewrap the legs every one to two days to minimize the chance of circulation problems caused by slippage, or skin irritation due to dirt or debris entering the bandages.
  • Before rewrapping, take a few minutes to examine the legs for any signs of heat, swelling or irritation. Problem areas are usually wet with perspiration.
  • Allow the horse ample time to become accustomed to leg bandages before trailering, riding or leaving alone in a stall.

For the entire 3M/AAEP article on leg bandaging, click here.

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11 thoughts on “Wrap it Right”

  1. I have found that wrapping the legs prior to travel rather than using “shipping boots” provides more support and peace of mind.

  2. some horses are more sensitive then others to wrapping bandages. it is important that you realy get to know your horse to see how they react to diferent tipes of terapy methods

  3. Hi

    My mare got seriously injured in May of 2008 by a large dog, wolf or bear, my vet said. At the back of her fetlock she had one very large hole and below one medium hole, it took 2 mths for the medium hole to close and 4 months for the large one.

    She had an operation, the vet showed me a partial cut tendon, I had to move her to a Equine to a larger quarter. I have carpel tunnel, tendontitis, below and above the elbow torn muscles on both arms. I had pay that Equine owner to wrap clean her leg as it needed to be very tight.

    She was at bedrest the whole summer, I brought her back home in September. The vet wanted me to wrap her legs at night but not to tight. I told him I didn’t know how or have the equipment but will get them.

    I did, then ask my vet to come show me how to wrap. [He’s clinic is 45 minutes from here, other vets 1-1/2 hr away and won’t come to my area]. My vet replied to try to find someone to show me, never found no one. I called my vet several times but he doesn’t come to show me how to properly wrap. I read articles on how to but that’s not the same as actually having someone show me.

    I poceeded to wrap her legs, at first she did well but one month later she refused to let me wrap her. It’s been since middle of Nov no wrap, now Jan her leg is still swollen and need be wrap at night to help her.

    I don’t have a clue what I did to her to refuse me! But I believe it wasn’t done right and might of hurt her… unsure! Would you be able to help me?

    Maybe you ran into something like this and could know why or advise me what to do so she will accept me to wrap her legs! I still didn’t find anyone to help me, I’m getting stress about this as I know she needs help with her leg.

    I will wait for your reply hoping their’s a way I can encourage her to let me wrap her.

    Have a great day

  4. Hi

    I’m sorry for the double post but I think it would help you to help me if I let you know that…

    My horse is going to be 24 years old this May, I had her it’s 21 years now.

    How she refuses is not by wanting to kick me but prances around. When I manage to put the quilt on her leg then she continueously lifts her leg up and down and prances again. I tried to have a friend hold her hoping it would relax her but she does the same.

    I hope this helps you!

  5. I have found getting someone to lift the leg that isn’t being wrapping (if you’re wrapping a front leg, hold up the other front leg and likewise with the back). The main thing I’ve found is best is lots of practice so that you are able to wrap quickly and efficiently. Hope this helps!

  6. This is very good information I would think some people dont know alot about this kind of stuff.

  7. Lordy, Lord Lord. Life just isn’t fair is it? I wanted a horse all my life, but I know how to write English. Florence can’t write a complete sentence, but she owns horses. Isn’t that weird?

  8. Dear Elvis Seasmell, Owning and careing for horses isn’t about your spelling abilities, may be that’s why you have wanted but never had a horse of your own. If your priority is your own or other peoples grammer and spelling maybe you just aren’t a horse owner at heart. Horse do not care how you spell only that you care.

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