Basics of Bandaging for Horses

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Basics of Bandaging for Horses

Morgan Murphy

Basics of Bandaging

Horses’ legs are precious. The blood supply to these delicate limbs lies close to the surface, so it is little wonder that we want to ensure the legs are protected from knocks and strain. Bandaging is a great way to provide support and protection, not only during exercise but while the horse is travelling, in the stall and recovering after an injury.  Bandaging technique is very important – if the pressure is too tight, or if the bandage is uneven or the fabric crossed over, it can constrict the blood supply and cause rubbing and will fail to provide the correct support. Conversely, if applied too loosely, the bandage will fall off and become a hazard for tripping or getting caught on fencing, gates etc.

If a bandage is restricting blood flow, you may notice your horse pawing at the ground, swelling developing around the bandage and a decrease in hoof temperature. In these circumstances, the bandage has been applied too tightly and should be removed and reapplied. Other essential points to remember are that bandages should always be applied in pairs (never on their own) and if the material is non-stretch or fleece it can be applied directly to the leg, whereas elastic bandages should always be applied over padding such as sheet cotton.

Step-by-step guide to bandaging 

  1. Always ensure the horse is tied up and safely restrained.
  2. Clean and groom the legs thoroughly to ensure there is no debris or dirt present.
  3. Always position yourself to the outside of the horse’s leg.
  4. Cut padding to the correct size and wrap it around the lower leg of the horse, overlapping the edges so that the bandage join falls on the outside.
  5. Hold the padding in place with the hand nearest the tail. Place the bandage flat on the outside of the leg and pass from front to back so that you’re not pulling on the tendons as you wrap.
  6. Spread the bandage out evenly, moving down the leg by approximately half the bandage width each turn. Try to ensure neither the bandage nor padding wrinkle or crease. Keep the tension even but not tight.
  7. At the base of the fetlock joint, stop bandaging and reverse the direction, going evenly back up the leg. Do not go above the knee or you may catch the carpal accessory bone.
  8. Finish below the knee or hock you began with. If there is a Velcro fastening, you can fix the bandage with this but if ties are to be used these must be secured at the side of the leg.
  9. Run your hand over the bandage to identify any wrinkles and check the pressure throughout: ensure it is neither too tight or too loose.
  10. If you find any problems, remove the bandage and start again – do not try to straighten out any creases as this can cause more issues. It is far safer to start again.

Like most aspects of equine health care, bandaging becomes easier with practice. At first, however, it can be fiddly, tricky and frustrating. Make your life easier by incorporating these simple tips into your bandaging protocol:

  • After removing bandages, use both hands to vigorously rub the legs for a quick massage to stimulate circulation.
  • Always wash bandages after use: this will prevent any rubbing by ingrained dirt or mud when reapplied.
  • After washing, reroll the bandages with the Velcro to the inside. This ensures that they are easier to apply and fasten on the next occasion and that the Velcro does not collect any dirt or particles which can compromise its ability in holding the bandage in place.
  • Some suppliers sell different types of bandages for different levels of support. You may wish to invest in a few sets so that you have a suitable bandage for use during exercise, when your horse is stalled and that you have fleece fabrics for extra warmth in winter.

For more hints and tips on horse care come back to www.spalding-labs.com again soon.

 

 

Comments
  • Great information as always! Any tips on getting my mare to stand still when I'm bandaging?