Horse Health

Wrap it Right

November 20, 2008

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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