We all keep horses for different reasons, but whether your horse lives out on pasture and goes for occasional trail rides, or spends most of his time working in an indoor and eating hay in a stall, there are certain necessities every horse owner must keep around the barn. These are the four bandages every horse owner needs on hand… just in case!
1: Self-adhesive wrap. With brand names like Vetrap, self-adhesive wrap might be the one of the most important things in your emergency kit. It’s useful in a pinch when you need to apply pressure to a wound, but it’s also incredibly helpful for non-emergencies. Use self-adhesive wrap to create a quick tail wrap before shipping, or to bind up a tail completely during a foaling or even before a muddy workout. Since it’s non-absorbent, Vetrap is a great for covering dressed wounds when regular wraps might get soaked with dew or muddy, such as injuries to the coronary band.
Use caution, however: self-adhesive wrap can apply a lot of pressure, so lay it on with a gentle hand, and pad with traditional fabric or gauze to prevent the edges of the wrap from cutting the skin.
2: Standing wraps. The traditional standing wrap is a combination of a large rectangular under-wrap–anything from a thin cotton quilt to a thick, acrylic-stuffed “pillow wrap” — with a non-elastic bandage wrapped around it to hold the under-wrap in place. The standing wrap has many uses, the most basic of which is to provide support and increase circulation to the lower leg through gentle pressure and warmth. They can also cover any number of dressings, from a cooling poultice to a stimulating sweat, or protect a wound or skin condition.
While basic, standing wraps are anything but simple to master. The perfect wrap, which doesn’t sag after a few hours of use and is applied at the exact same pressure from top to bottom of the horse’s leg, could take years to achieve. Learn it before you need it by taking the time to practice an even, gentle pressure throughout your bandage, or else you risk long-term damage to your horse’s legs. Fluffy “no bow” wraps, which help equalize the pressure of the bandage as you wind it around the leg, are a great investment if you’re not a wrapping pro.
3. Bell boots. While the most basic use of bell boots is to keep a horse with an enthusiastic step from pulling off his front shoes with his hind hooves, these rubber booties have enough practical uses that they should be in any horseman’s tack trunk. They’re ideal for shipping, when a horse could be thrown around by road conditions and might step on himself, damaging the coronary band, hoof, or pulling a shoe. They also come in handy if you’re turning out a horse with some sort of hoof bandage on — for example, if you’ve wrapped up an abscess site to keep it clean while it drains — as the boot can prevent the horse from stepping on the bandage and tearing it off.
4. Splint boots or brushing boots. The advertised use of splint boots is to prevent a horse from injuring himself with his own hooves — they’re designed to protect the lower leg and fetlock joint from being struck by the opposite hoof. But even if your horse doesn’t brush or interfere, splint boots, especially leather or rubber-sided models, are great for riding out in rough territory. Use splint boots to keep your horse’s legs protected on overgrown trails, or in slippery, rocky conditions.
No matter how your horse lives or works, you can find uses for these four basic bandages. Keep you tack room stocked and ready for every eventuality, because you know how horses are: always looking for trouble!