One of the things we can probably count on is the fact that horses will find a way to hurt themselves! We push them to do things they would never need to do in the wild. In addition, horses have no muscles below the knee area, so they are more prone to tendon damage. We have also bred horses for issues other than conformation, including color, size, and ability. Unfortunately, this means that we are breeding horses with longer legs and smaller feet- leading to greater possibility for injury.
Everyone who owns a horse should know how to wrap their horse’s legs. Whether it be polo wraps, flannel wraps or standing wraps, the basic concept behind wrapping is the same.
Types of Wraps
Polo Wraps- Used for exercise only. These should not be left on the horse in his stall.
Flannel Wraps- Flannel wraps are used to help protect the leg, but they don’t really provide any support. Flannel wraps should be used in conjunction with either cotton or pillow wraps. Flannel wraps can be used after exercise, during transport, to protect a bandage, etc. Flannel wraps should never be used for exercising your horse.
Standing Wraps- Standing wraps are used to help protect the leg and prevent or reduce swelling. Standing wraps should ONLY be used in conjunction with pillow wraps. Do NOT use them with cotton wraps, as it can lead to scarring or even a bowed tendon. Standing wraps should never be used for exercising your horse.
Cotton Wraps- These are also called plush wraps. They are used underneath flannel wraps. They should NEVER be used under standing wraps.
Pillow Wraps- These are basically memory foam, which create an even pressure across the entire leg, and will not create pressure points. They can be used underneath flannel wraps or standing wraps.
In order to prevent pressure on the tendon, the wraps need to be directional:
1. The wrap on the right leg goes clockwise.
2. The wrap on the left goes counter-clockwise.
Front legs- be sure to start the wrap below the knee, and wrap underneath the fetlock in order to support the ligaments and suspensory tendons.
Hind legs- be sure to start the wrap at the top of the cannon bone (below the hock), and, just like the front leg, wrap underneath the fetlock.
Starting the wrap- be sure to start the wrap on the side of the horse’s leg, not on the front or the back in order to prevent a pressure point.
During the wrap- be sure to pull the wrap tightly. Each wrap should be the same distance from each other to prevent pressure points (around 1″). Be sure to wrap underneath the fetlock.
End of the wrap- theoretically the wrap should go all of the way down and back up the horse’s legs.
Front legs- be sure to wrap the cotton or pillow wrap first. The top should rest under the knee. Be sure to wrap the cotton/pillow wrap in the correct direction.
Hind legs- be sure to wrap the cotton or pillow wrap first. The top should rest at the top of the cannon bone (below the hock). Again, be sure to wrap it in the correct direction.
Starting the wrap- this is different from a polo wrap. You will slip part of the beginning of the wrap in the middle of the horse’s leg, and then wrap up, right below the knee, then wrap back down the leg.
During the wrap- be sure to pull the wrap tightly. Flannel wraps have very little to no give, so you cannot wrap too tightly. Standing wraps are designed to put pressure on the leg to prevent swelling, so you must pull the wrap tightly for this purpose. Just like with polo wraps, be sure to wrap evenly and you should have the same distance between wraps (around 1″). Be sure to wrap underneath the fetlock.
End of the wrap- you probably will not be able to wrap all of the way up the leg like you would a polo wrap. That is OK as long as the wrap is consistent and even throughout.