The following article is provided as a courtesy and service to the horse industry by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
There may be any number of occasions when you will need 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.
Regardless of the purpose, it is essential that you use proper leg bandaging techniques. Applied incorrectly, bandages may not only fail to do their job, but also may 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 apply bandages. It simply takes the right materials and a bit of practice. If you have never bandaged a horse’s legs, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the proper techniques. Practice under his or her supervision before doing it on your own.
Follow these basic guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) when bandaging a horse’s leg:
- Start with clean, dry legs and bandages. If there is a wound, make sure it has been 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 a joint, as movement will tend to loosen the bandage and cause it to unwrap.
- Wrap the leg from front to back, outside to inside (counterclockwise on left legs, clockwise on 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 (this is especially important when trailering).
- Extend the bandages to within one-half inch of the padding at the top and bottom. 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.
For more information about bandaging techniques, ask your equine veterinarian for the “Leg Bandages” brochure, one in a series of eight bandaging brochures produced by the AAEP in partnership with 3M Animal Care Products. More bandaging information is also available on the AAEP’s horse health web site, www.myHorseMatters.com.
Contributed By: AAEP