Bandaging a horse’s leg can be a tricky business unless you’ve had some practice or instruction. Above all, you want the bandage to apply the correct amount of pressure and not be too tight yet remain securely in place. So, what should you think about when wrapping your horse’s leg with a bandage?
First you need to have the proper materials at hand. Your first aid kit should include the following:
- A non-stick pad (Telfa), preferably sterile, to apply directly over the cleansed wound.
- Cotton (sheet or roll type) or Combine padding to wrap around the area to cushion against uneven bandage pressure. In a pinch, you can use a sanitary pad or clean leg quilt.
- Roll gauze to hold the padding in place.
- Elastic, self-stick bandaging material such as Elastikonor Elastiplast.
Now you can begin to bandage your horse. Place the non-stick pad over the wound. Next apply a thin layer of cotton, Combine pad or other cushioning material to encircle the leg area you are bandaging.
If you don’t have anyone to help you with an extra set of hands, use the roll gauze to hold the padding in place. This gauze material doesn’t stretch so be careful to wrap it snugly but not too tightly. The best material to use for the final outer layer is a stretchy, self-stick bandaging product, like Elastikon–it doesn’t tend to bind down tightly like non-stretch materials (Coban, VetWrap or similar) tend to do. Elastikon is more forgiving than most other wrapping materials and is less likely to restrict blood circulation if put on a tad too tightly.
On each roll of the self-sticking tape (Elastikon) you’ll see a red line in the middle of the roll. The line is a guide–if you just barely cover this red line with the next wrap around the leg, you’ll avoid gaps in the layers and the bandage isn’t likely to slip apart. Spiral the bandage up the leg as you wrap so you apply it at a very slight oblique angle. This further helps to prevent slippage.
One of the best tips to avoid constricting your horse’s circulation or tendons is to pull the material over the front of the leg as you unroll it and then lay the material across the backside of the limb. It never hurts to consult your vet for advice and instruction so you can get it right.