Nearly every horse - whether its a prize-winning thoroughbred or a hardy mustang - will require a leg bandage or wrap of some kind during its lifetime.
Leg wraps are commonly used to treat wounds as well as tendon and ligament injuries. They are also useful in preventing fluid accumulation and for protecting the limbs during shipping or performances.
According to Christy Corp-Minamiji, a large animal veterinarian practicing in Northern California, not all leg wraps are created equal. In fact, if not applied properly, they may even do more harm than good.
In a recent article for The Horse, Dr. Minamiji outlined the proper bandaging fundamentals to use when treating or preventing a variety of common ailments.
Applying bandages to wounds and surgical incisions "can prevent contamination, provide compression to minimize swelling, hold topical medications against the wound, reduce motion of the wound edges, and keep the exudates (pus) in contact with the wound."
As gross as it may seem, the presence of pus is actually important for wound healing. Dr. Reid Hanson, professor of equine surgery and lameness at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine, says that many horse owners "see exudate and assume (the wound) must be infected, and so they get their iodine scrub and clean it," but Hanson cautions that by scrubbing a healing wound, "they've removed all the good juice that allows it to heal."
Instead, Hanson recommends using a gentle wound cleanser and applying a compression bandage to help prevent fluid accumulation in the limb. He usually covers his initial medicated dressing with a thick layer of padding and secures it with wrap material. If immobilization is required, Hanson recommends using a splint or bandage cast.
Tendon or Ligament Injuries:
While wraps can control swelling and provide some support to an injured leg, a splint is usually required to provide adequate support and protection. Hanson believes that placing support wraps on uninjured legs is unecessary and could even be harmful.
Dr, Hanson sees two main types of support wraps used on horses during shipping to Auburn University - traditional quilt-and-wrap and modern shipping boots with Velcro closures. For best results he recommends using both together.
"It seems that if someone was really concerned about protection, a combination of the styles might be best," he says. "Bell boots that cover the coronary band are a nice addition to the (quilt and wrap) bandage if one is concerned with protecting that area from injury."
Getting the horse used to wearing wraps or boots prior to shipping is important to prevent the animal from panicking during shipping and causing trauma.
Whether or not to use standing wraps to minimize limb swelling in a stall-confined horse is a personal choice. If they are placed, standing wraps must be monitored daily and reset at least once a day to "ensure the wrap is not tightening or loosening inappropriately and that no debris has worked its way inside the wrap, where it might cause a sore."
Wraps, bandages, and boots are used in a wide variety of equine performance disciplines, but often have less padding and must be precisely applied with appropriate pressure. It is also important to choose appropriate equipment for the horse's discipline.
"It's important to apply and use it in the intended manner," says Julie Dechant, chief of the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Surgical Emergency and Critical Care Service. "Some wraps intended for performance are not meant for horses standing in the stall, where they may not have the same degree of blood flow."
View Minamiji's full, detailed article for even more bandaging tips.
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H/T to The Horse
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