Bandaging a Horse’s Lower Limb
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Bandaging a Horse’s Lower Limb

August 10, 2019


Hi. I’m Abby Neu. And I’m an Extension Educator for the University of Minnesota. I’m Devan Catalano and I am an Animal Science Master’s student at the University of Minnesota. And this is Belle. She is one of the teaching mares at the university. I’m Dr. Kerry Kuhle from the University of Minnesota West Metro Equine Practice. and today we are going to talk about leg wraps and we’ll talk specifically about how to wrap a lower limb in the event of an injury. So let’s walk over and look at some of the materials that we have available to us for a lower limb bandage. We’ve got a variety of things here. These are called BB Satins. They come in a pack of 12. And then we’ve just got some basic cotton wraps that come in a variety of sizes. We’ve got a couple of different kinds of gauze. A “cling gauze” which is a stretchy, soft gauze. And then this is just simply caused “brown gauze”. VetRap™ is our outer layer and we are going to talk a lot about VetRap™ and when it is appropriate and where it is appropriate to use. And then we’ve got our basic non-stick bandages that come in a variety of sizes. And then for tape we have our handy Elastikon bandage and then we’ve got your basic white tape which we sometimes will use to add a little bit of security to a bandage on the outside. The one thing I do want to emphasize before we start applying our bandage is that some of the materials that we use to bandage horses’ limbs with are very stretchy. And when you’ve got something that is very stretchy it is easy to put it on too tightly. I have seen bandages applied that have actually caused blood vessel damage and sloughing of the skin. VetRap™ is one that everybody loves because it is very stretchy and it sticks to itself. However, if you put this right over the horse’s skin or over a very thin bandage and over the skin you can create some pretty impressive injuries worse than what you’ve started with. Your Elastikon tape is quite stretchy and this can also can be applied too tightly. One thing that can make your life a lot easier before you even start your wrap is to unroll your tape so you can have a partner such as Abby hold the end. Reroll it onto the tape. And when we go to apply this as our final step in the bandage it’ll be very easy to just to lay it on the skin. So we’re going to wrap Belle’s leg pretending that she has a wound on the front of her left cannon bone. And when you see a wound on your horse especially a fresh wound you want to assess the wound as quickly as possible and then call your veterinarian. When you see a fresh wound things to clean it with would be things the rule of thumb is what you would put in your own eye Sterile saline is a perfect wound cleansing solution. Similarly, you don’t want to apply any ointments to a wound. It may make it more difficult for your veterinarian to suture the wound. Get it cleaned and get it wrapped and call your veterinarian. We’re going to start with our non-stick bandage. And our soft, cling gauze to cover Belle’s wound. We are going to put it over our wound. We are going to take our nice soft cotton and we always want to roll it so that it rolls off the backside so you are not putting any pressure or tension on the cotton gauze itself. And it takes a little practice to be able to do these well. And so it’s not a bad idea to practice these on a horse like Belle that isn’t actually injured so that you know what you are doing when the time comes that you really need to apply a bandage. It is always good to know how to do this when you are not under pressure. I’m just layering the cotton. I’m not putting any tension. I am just rolling it right off. Unlike our Vetrap™ when we do this I don’t worry that I’m going to put any undue pressure on the blood vessels of the leg and cause any damage. I’m going to tuck that little piece in there so my bandage stays on nicely. Next I’m going to use my cotton roll and we’re going to put on a 3 layer bandage. The cotton roll is the first layer. Then we will use a layer of brown gauze. And we’ll finish with a layer of Vetrap™. We are going to start on the outside. We are going to stay just below the carpus (or the knee) We’ll roll from front to back and outside to in. Once we get it around we’ll just make sure that our ends are tucked and we don’t have any creases and the bandage is nice and smooth so that we are not creating any pressure points anywhere on the leg but especially over the flexor tendons that run down the back of the leg. We are going to take our brown gauze and just like we did with the cling gauze we’re going to roll it off the back. We are going to go up the leg crossing over about 50% of the previous layer. This will serve to sort of squeeze down our cotton. Apply gentle pressure which will help stop bleeding and prevent swelling. Our third layer is going to be our Vetrap™. I’m going to start right at the bottom. Make it nice and smooth. I’ll usually go around one complete time to secure it and then I’ll start to cross up again covering about 50% of the lower wrap as I go. Vetrap™ has a tendency to want to wrinkle so sometimes I’ll just keep my hands here to hold it. And that will keep it from wanting to crunch down. It also helps me apply the appropriate amount of tension. I can pull on it a little bit here and I’ve got it secured here so I’m not pulling too hard. Another thing to keep in mind when you put your tension on any bandage material if you pull when the bandage or VetRap™ or whatever is springy is on the front of the leg then you aren’t applying any pressure to those flexor tendons. With as much cotton as we’ve got on here it’s going to be pretty difficult to put too much pressure on. But it is just something we always want to be aware of. Feel free to adjust as you go. If you see that you are getting a wrinkle you can always back it right off and readjust. One thing that we should not forget to mention is that Belle is being a model patient right now and standing very still for us. When you’ve got a horse that truly is injured that limb is going to be painful and they may be a little more resistant to standing still. Be sure you’ve got good help restraining the horse. The last step is our Elastikon™. Remember that we unrolled the Elastikon™ before we started so that it would very easily roll right off. You are going to want to have your bandage scissors handy because you cannot tear the Elastikon™. There are two reasons why we would use Elastikon™ on a bandage like this. One is to secure it so it doesn’t slide down. That is what our piece around the top will provide. I put it on so that it covers just a little bit of the Vetrap™ all of the cotton and then it secures to the skin itself. You may need to go around twice depending on how much cotton you leave at the top. You can see that I’m literally just rolling it off and laying it onto the skin. I’m not pulling or putting any tension on whatsoever. At the bottom if this were to stay on and the horse would go in a stall shavings could get up underneath so this is going to keep everything clean and comfortable at the bottom. There is our completed bandage. So this is the cotton that we used to wrap Belle. As you can see it is quite long. If you were simply going to apply a bandage and wait for your veterinarian to arrive shortly you wouldn’t necessarily need to use the entire roll. If the bandage is going to stay on for 12-24 hours it’s probably better to use all of it because it will apply the most even pressure. As a stop gap just until the vet arrives you may cut it in half. Some people will even use less but I would say half is probably an ideal length and then you can just roll your half and apply it to the leg as shown.

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