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How to Bandage Horses’ Legs for Exercise: A Step-by-Step Guide

Placing bandages on your horse’s legs before you go out for an exercise session is smart for many reasons, but it is especially useful if the horse is recuperating from an injury, but isn’t quite healed yet. Bandages protect your horse’s legs while they’re traveling from one location to another and can provide warmth to tendons and ligaments that are either causing pain or still in the process of healing. In addition, wrapping your horse’s legs in bandages can control both the swelling and the horse’s movements when it’s experiencing any acute injuries.

Of course, just like anything else you do for your horse, bandaging his lower leg area has to be done correctly because if it isn’t, it not only won’t help the leg heal, but it can actually make things worse. If you’ve never before wrapped your horse’s legs with a bandage, now is the time to learn, and it is much easier once you learn a few basics.

Available in Different Lengths and Widths

Both wraps and bandages come in various lengths and widths, and the main difference is that polo wraps are usually placed over the horse’s legs by themselves, while bandages are usually wrapped over some type of padding or cotton first. Bandages are also made for both shipping or transporting the horse from one location to another, and for standing when they are expected to stand for long periods of time. In addition, polo wraps are usually not as large as regular bandages are since they don’t have to fit over any type of padding.

Step 1: Decide on the Right Type of Bandage

Wrapping a bandage isn’t as difficult as it sounds. For starters, you should decide what type of material you want with your bandage, as it can be made out of cotton, fleece, flannel, and even self-adhesive material. Not sure which type to choose? Ask your veterinarian for some advice, or just let your horse make the decision for you, because each horse has its own preferences when it comes to the type of bandages it prefers.

Step 2: Make Sure the Horse’s Leg Is Clean and Dry

You can start this step by thoroughly washing the horse’s leg with soap and warm water or even some iodine. You can use baby shampoo for extra mildness, and make sure every bit of debris is off of the leg, including grass, sweat, manure, and even the iodine you used to clean the leg. Skin irritation and even conditions such as dermatitis can result if the leg isn’t cleaned properly before you start to bandage.

If your horse has any type of open wound on the leg area, it’s best to ask your vet what the proper protocol is. Mixing iodine with a little warm water, then rubbing it over the wound and letting it dry is a great method, but certainly not the only one. No wound should be wrapped without first cleaning, rinsing, drying, and dressing it. Making sure the wound is treated properly is an important step in the bandaging process.

Step 3: Decide on the Right Size for Your Bandage

As a general rule, you’ll want a bandage that is at least 2” wide, but larger horses may require a bandage that is even wider. If you are using a bandage and not a polo wrap, make sure you wrap the leg first with at least 1” of padding. The padding should be applied evenly as you cover the leg. If it’s not even enough, creases will result that can cause too much pressure in that area, increasing the likelihood of the horse experiencing an injury at some point. The padding should always be smooth and even.

Step 4: Start Wrapping From the Inside of the Leg

When wrapping a bandage around your horse’s leg, start on the inside of the leg, then move to the front. As you are working, make sure the bandage isn’t too tight, which can cause injuries to the tendon; too loose, which can cause the horse to get tangled up in the bandage; or is placed over joints, because this is uncomfortable for the horse. In addition, use a spiral pattern and wrap from the top of the leg to the bottom.

While you’re applying the bandage, use a smooth and even motion, applying the same amount of pressure on the entire leg. You should also stop the process periodically and check the bandage, making sure you can fit two fingers comfortably under the bottom of the bandage and one finger comfortably under the top portion. If you notice any bumps or ridges, you should unwrap that section and start all over again.

Step 5: Make Sure You Secure the Bandage Properly

Bandages are usually secured with Velcro, a pin, or some other form of closure, but if you happen to have a bandage that doesn’t come with anything to close it with, you can use masking tape or even duct tape instead. To finish, make sure there is always one piece of tape that goes around the entire leg at the bottom of the bandage, and another piece that goes around the leg at the top of the bandage.

If you’re planning to ride the horse, let it graze, or keep it in its stall for an extended period of time, try to wait at least 15 minutes after the bandaging procedure is complete before you do this so that the horse has enough time to get comfortable with the bandage and so you can check to make sure you’ve wrapped the leg properly.

Helpful Tips to Remember

Wrapping bandages around your horse’s leg is just like anything else – the more practice you get, the better you’ll be at it. Here are a few tips and suggestions to make the process easier and more effective:

  • As a general rule, bandaging your horse’s legs should only be done when the horse has a new injury or is recuperating from an existing injury.
  • While it is recuperating from the injury, make sure you rebandage every day so that the horse is always wearing clean, debris-free bandages.
  • Make sure washable bandages are cleaned regularly and disposable bandages are disposed of once they are used a time or two (whatever the manufacturer recommends).
  • Be careful while applying the bandage; don’t put yourself in a position that allows the horse to start kicking if he starts to get scared, or you might get hurt.
  • If the horse only has an injury on one leg, go ahead and wrap the other leg as well so that it doesn’t start to put too much pressure on the injured leg and experience even more pain.

If this is your first time to wrap your horse’s leg, don’t get too nervous. If you mess up, all you really have to do is unwrap the leg and start over again. Take your time and keep the bandage smooth and wrinkle-free the entire time, and you’ll get better at it once you get a little practice under your belt.

The Best Types of Leg Bandages for Horses

Depending on the type of bandage you’re looking for, it is easy to research horse bandages because reviews are easy to find if you start online. If you’re curious about some of the bandages with the best customer reviews, below are a few you should consider:

  • Prairie Horse Supply 4-inch self-adhesive bandages: available in sets of 6 to 24 packs, these bandages are available in colors such as red, green, blue, purple, and orange, and not only do they not need pins or clips to close them, but they will also never stick to the horse’s hair or skin. The bandages are 4 inches wide and 5 yards in length, so each pack offers a lot of applications for your horses.
  • Lux Ceramic Therapy Quick Wraps for horses: perfect for rehab, recovery, and even preventative measures, these wraps will reduce inflammation, break down scar tissue, and reduce wind puffs even without applying liniment first. They expand blood vessels and increase circulation for a speedier recovery, and they are cost-effective as well.
  • Tough-1 standing wraps: available in a 5.5” x 9-foot size, they make wrapping your horse’s legs even easier because they keep the legs secure and clean, are made with fine-gauge netting for extra durability and longevity, and come in a variety of colors so that your horses are both recuperating quickly and looking great while the healing is taking place.
  • Ovation climate-control bandages: with these bandages, the moisture is whisked away from the skin so the entire area stays drier, and their cushioning material makes for perfect support for your horse’s ligaments and tendons. They let the air flow through them to keep the leg clean and dry, and their top-notch materials offer your horse the ultimate protection every time it wears them.
  • Professional’s Choice standing front wrap: with secure hook-and-loop closures, this set of wraps is easy to get properly secured and is made out of ventilated neoprene for excellent comfort and support while your horse is recuperating. They can also be used for shipping horses.

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