Bandaging

After putting their horses through strenuous rides or participation in some competition, many riders "do 'em up" overnight, using standing bandages alone or with various medications or liniments.

Improperly applied bandages can damage a horse's leg, however. Most people need practice, preferably with an experienced mentor, to become proficient at putting on a neat, safe bandage. Reviewing this step-by-step, however, will get you off on the right foot.

A basic bandage includes leg cotton, an outer wrap and bandage pins. All can be purchased at your feed store or tack shop.

It is important to use cotton that is thick enough to safely pad the leg. Cottons that have become worn can no longer cushion the leg, and lumps or holes can cause pressure sores.
 
Cotton is usually sold in 12-sheet packages, enough to make four bandages. To make a proper cotton wrap, open two sheets and align them one on top of the other, the edge of the top sheet aligned with the center crease of the bottom. Put a third still-folded sheet on top, and fold the outer flaps over it. Roll it up.

Flannel makes the best outer wrap because it is harder to put on too tight. Ace-type stretch bandages can wreak havoc on a horse's leg, particularly if the material is old and has lost its stretch.

If you use a lot of bandages, save money by buying a bolt of flannel and tearing your own wraps. The material will need to be nine feet long and torn into six-inch wide strips. Tear off the selvage edge before measuring and tearing.

Bandage pins are the same size as diaper pin, (minus the pink or blue ducky heads.) You'll need two pins for each bandage.

Applying a standing bandage-step by step:

 Begin by restraining the horse in a safe manner. If your horse hasn't been bandaged before, have someone hold him. Position yourself beside the leg to be bandaged in such a way that you can move easily if necessary.

If the horse is being introduced to bandages, it's best to start out with a plain polo bandage, rather than fooling with bulky cotton and flannel. When the horse has accepted the bandage, you can switch.

 Make sure the leg is clean and the hair is lying down. If you are changing liniments or medications, it's important that the leg be thoroughly cleaned.

 Cotton and flannel rolled up tightly and neatly are easier to put on the leg. When you roll up the bandages, begin by rolling to the inside the part you want to end with on the outside. With the flannel, you will want the shaggy side out when the bandage is put on.

If the horse needs to be bandaged nightly for a period of time, put the same bandage on the same leg. The cotton will begin to conform to the leg and become easier to apply. Use new cotton if the bandage is treating a wound and becomes soiled, or if the cotton becomes flat.

 If the cotton is the right size for the leg, the top will be positioned just below the knee and will extend to right below the pastern. If it is too long, it is okay for it to extend below the pastern a little. Place the cotton on the inside of the leg so that it unrolls across the cannon bone first. Keep the cotton close to the leg while rolling it on firmly.

Position the flannel wrap midway between the knee and pastern, making one wrap straight around the leg in the same direction (from the inside of the leg and around the front of the cannon bone) as the cotton. If you start the flannel by tucking the edge under the cotton, it will help you maintain the cotton's position.

 After making the first wrap straight around the leg to anchor everything, start working down the leg. Each successive layer of flannel should cover at least 50 percent of the last layer to ensure that you don't create a line of tension around the leg.

 Make sure the lowest wrap of flannel is even with the lower edge of the cotton. One wrap around the bottom edge of the cotton is sufficient before starting back up the leg. When starting back up the leg, do not cup the bandage under the back pastern, as if you were going to make a figure-eight.

 The top round of flannel should be even with the upper edge of the cotton. It is okay to leave a bit of cotton showing under the flannel at the top or bottom, as long as it isn't enough for the horse to chew on.

 Pin the flannel on the outside of the leg at a point just in front of the tendon. This area is the most inaccessible (without being directly over the tendon) to the horse's teeth. To get the flannel to end at this spot, stick your index finger under the ending flap of the flannel even with where you want to pin. You can then neatly fold the excess flap back underneath the last wrap of flannel.

Pin the outside corners of the flannel, placing the pins on the outer edges of the corner so you don't leave a handy flap for a horse to tug on. Run the pins in with the sharp ends pointing down. Stick the pins through enough of the underlying bandage so that they won't loosen up.

 The finished bandage should feel firm, but not tight. If it is too loose, the bandage will migrate down the leg as the horse walks around his stall. If it is too tight it can damage the leg. To check for the correct amount of tension, a good rule of thumb is to be able to get two fingers under the bandage below the pastern and one finger under the bandage at the top.

If your horse chews on its bandage, coat the flannel with something vile-tasting. Soap is popular, as is red pepper mixed with water and painted on. Using something vile-tasting is probably a good idea if your horse has never worn a bandage, so that it doesn't get in the habit of chewing it off.

A horse wearing a bandage for the first time will sometimes panic in the first few minutes of being wrapped. Walk him around the stall a few times, getting everyone out of the way before releasing.

Taken From Horse and Horse

The Equine

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