There may be any number of occasions when you will need or want 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.
No matter your reason for bandaging, it is essential that you use proper leg bandaging techniques. If applied incorrectly, bandages may not only fail to do their job, they can cause discomfort, restrict blood flow and potentially damage tendons and other tissue.
It is often said that it is better to leave a horse’s legs unbandaged than to bandage them incorrectly. Fortunately, there is nothing complicated about learning to do this. It simply takes the right materials and a bit of practice.
Leg bandages are beneficial for several reasons:
A proper leg bandage generally has two or more layers; an ample amount of padding secured by a support bandage and sometimes a protective outer layer. If a wound is involved, gauze pads or a sterile, absorbent dressing may be required as well. You should always keep bandage materials in your barn first aid kit but if you are running low, make sure to purchase them from your veterinarian or their online pharmacy.
Padding is essential for protecting limbs. At least an inch or more of soft, cushioning material should be placed between the limb and the bandage to help disperse the pressure evenly and prevent blood flow from being restricted. Roll cotton, sheet cotton, or leg quilts work well and are lightweight and comfortable. Generally, the longer a bandage is to remain in place, the greater the amount of padding needed.
There are many choices of bandaging materials, including track or polo wraps, cotton flannels, roll gauze or bandaging tapes, Elastikon and similar products. The bandaging material should be at least two inches wide to avoid a tourniquet-like effect and allow for sufficient overlap as the leg is wrapped. Using stretch fabric makes joint bandaging easier, allows for movement, and is less likely to cut off circulation as long as it is not pulled too tightly.
Preparing for the Bandage
Wrapping the Bandage
Caring for the Bandaged Area
Please Note: 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.
If you think your horse may have injured himself you should put in an immediate call to your veterinarian. Most horse wounds get worse when left untreated and when your vet’s phone number is right at your fingertips, there is no reason not to give them a call. Carolina Equine Hospital services equines in the Piedmont Triad, and while the office may be open Monday-Friday, there is always a vet on call for after hours emergencies. When in doubt, talk it out with your vet.