Protecting your horse’s legs is incredibly important, especially when competing or treating injuries. There is a wide variety of leg wraps for horses with unique uses and benefits. Using the correct leg wraps for your horse can alleviate pain and swelling, support their joints, and aid in injury recovery. Saddle up as we journey through the ins and outs of horse leg wraps, ensuring your equine partner enjoys comfort, safety, and style in every stride.
What are horse leg wraps?
Horse leg wraps are protective coverings used on a horse’s legs to provide support, protection, and compression during riding, training, or recovery. There are different types of leg wraps, each designed for specific purposes. Additionally, leg wraps come in various colors and styles to add flair and personality to your horse’s look for competitions or just for fun.
Benefits of leg wrapping for horses
Leg wraps for horses serve multiple purposes, specific to the type of wrap and the horse’s needs. Here are a few benefits of using leg wraps.
Protection from injuries
Leg wraps provide a protective barrier that helps prevent cuts, abrasions, and impact injuries to the horse’s legs. This is especially important during jumping, trail riding, racing, or navigating rough terrain.
Support for tendons, ligaments, and joints
Certain wraps, like polo wraps or sports medicine boots, support the tendons and ligaments in a horse’s legs. This support can be crucial during intense physical activities, reducing the risk of strain or injury.
Wraps designed to protect the fetlock joint can provide additional support, especially in disciplines involving quick turns and direction changes. This can contribute to joint health and reduce the risk of overextension or strain.
Compression and swelling reduction
Leg wraps, when applied with the right amount of compression, can help reduce swelling and promote proper circulation. This is particularly beneficial in managing inflammation and preventing fluid buildup in the lower limbs.
Some leg wraps are designed with therapeutic materials, such as ceramic fibers or magnets, to promote healing and alleviate discomfort in horses with specific conditions, such as arthritis or soft tissue injuries.
Prevention of scratches and bites
Leg wraps can help protect horses from scratches or bites, particularly from bugs and other pests. They can also help protect from bites from other horses when turned out in a large group.
During transportation, wraps like shipping boots provide extra padding and protection to the legs, reducing the risk of injuries that could occur inside a trailer or horsebox.
Types of horse leg wraps
Each type of leg wrap is designed for a specific purpose. Here are some of the most widely used types of horse leg wraps.
These soft, fleece-like wraps are wound around the horse’s lower legs and cover the cannon bone and tendons. Polo wraps provide support and protection during exercise, particularly in polo, jumping, or dressage disciplines.
Standing wraps are used when the horse is not in motion, often in the stable or during transportation. Compared to polo wraps, standing wraps are longer and more substantial. They’re applied from just below the knee or hock down to the pastern, providing support and protection.
Though called “boots,” these wraps are designed for athletic activities and support the horse’s tendons and ligaments. They typically cover the cannon bone and the fetlock joint, offering support and protection. Some may have features like impact protection or additional reinforcement.
Tendon boots protect your horse’s front legs from strikes from the hind hooves, which can occur when jumping. Fetlock boots (sometimes called brushing boots) are used on the horse’s hind legs to protect the fetlock from brushing injuries, which are interference injuries that occur when opposite limbs strike each other.
These boots are used during transportation to protect the horse’s legs from injuries that may occur inside a trailer or horsebox. Shipping boots are typically tall and cover the lower limbs, providing padding and support during transit.
These wraps have therapeutic benefits. They may incorporate materials like ceramic fibers, magnets, or gel packs to aid in reducing inflammation, promoting healing, or alleviating discomfort associated with certain conditions or injuries.
While not traditional leg wraps, bell boots are protective gear that covers the horse’s hooves and lower pastern. They help prevent overreaching injuries, where the horse’s hind hooves strike the front heels or coronets.
When to use horse leg wraps
If you’re wondering when you should wrap your horse’s legs, here are common scenarios where doing so is wise.
During training or competition
Leg wraps, such as polo wraps or sports medicine boots, are often used during training to support and protect the horse’s tendons and ligaments. This is especially common in disciplines like jumping, dressage, or polo. Many riders will also wrap their horse’s legs for competitions to further protect against overreaching or brushing injuries.
When trail riding, horses may encounter uneven terrain, branches, thorns, and other hazards. Leg wraps can protect against cuts, abrasions, and impact injuries.
Rehabilitation and recovery
After an injury or during rehabilitation, leg wraps with therapeutic properties may aid the healing process. These wraps can help reduce inflammation, provide support, and promote circulation.
Stabling and rest
Standing wraps or stable bandages are often used when the horse is stabled or during rest periods. They provide support, reduce swelling, and can help prevent stiffness, especially after strenuous training or competitions.
Shipping boots or bandages are commonly used during transportation to protect the horse’s legs from injuries that may occur inside a trailer or horsebox. These boots provide padding and support during transit.
In colder climates, leg wraps can provide additional warmth to the horse’s legs, especially for older horses or those with joint issues that may be more sensitive to temperature changes.
How to put on horse leg wraps
Each type of leg wrap has a specific methodology for application. It’s crucial to follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer for the type of leg wrap you’re using. Additionally, if you’re new to wrapping horse legs, consider seeking guidance from an experienced horse handler or consulting your veterinarian. Improperly applied wraps can cause discomfort, restrict circulation, or lead to injuries, so it’s essential to take the time to learn the correct technique.
You can follow the instructions below to put wraps on your horse’s legs.
1. Prepare the leg
Start with clean, dry legs and bandages. Apply linament or poultice after a hard jumping workout if necessary. Allow the ointment to dry slightly–don’t wrap your horse’s legs if wet. Clean and dress any wounds before wrapping and apply padding between the wrap and the wound.
2. Begin wrapping
Start wrapping from the inside side of the cannon bone, just below the knee. The wrap should start and end at the top; begin wrapping on the top inside and end on the top outside. Avoid beginning or ending the wrap over the horse’s joints, as movement may result in the bandage becoming loose and unwinding. Wrap the leg in a spiral pattern from front to back, maintaining a consistent distance between turns, moving half the width of the wrap as you bandage.
3. Maintain tension
Maintain even tension as you wrap, ensuring the wrap is snug but not too tight. Avoid leaving gaps, wrinkles, or wrapping too loosely, as this can cause the wrap to slip or become uneven. You’ve got the correct amount of tension if you can get two fingers under the wrap below the pastern and one finger under the wrap at the top.
4. Secure the wrap
When you reach the desired height (just below the knee or hock), secure the end of the wrap with the Velcro closure. Ensure the Velcro is securely fastened to prevent the wrap from coming undone.
5. Check for evenness
Check that the wrap is even and smooth, without any bunching or wrinkles. Make sure it provides uniform support along the entire length of the leg.
Keep an eye on the wraps during use to ensure they remain in place and do not become too tight. Your horse should be comfortable with the wraps before leaving them unattended in the stall or trailer.
Properly wrapping your horse’s legs can bring them incredible relief and support for their joints, but becoming proficient at wrapping takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. If you have questions about wrapping your horse’s legs, call our team! The FarmHouse Tack is full of experienced equestrians who’ve been riding and caring for horses for years. We’ll be happy to show you the ropes!
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