Vet Wrap for Horses 101

Girl next to Horse

What Is This Vet Wrap Stuff?

And why should I care?

Vet wrap is a self-adhering bandage which means that it sticks to itself but not other surfaces. Vet wrap is flexible and stretchy. Its elastic quality is durable and provides firm support as well as enough pressure to stop bleeding. When it is properly applied with padding such as gauze pads, it will not cut off circulation.

Since vet wrap sticks to itself, it is often used as a wrap on limbs. It can be used on humans but is commonly used on the legs of horses and livestock because it will not stick to the animal’s hair. This also means that vet wrap is easily removed with or without the use of scissors.

What Are the Types of Horse Wraps?

There are several types of bandages and wraps for horses and each has its own purpose for the horse.

Vet wrap -  the purpose of vet wrap is to hold gauze pads and medication in place on the horse’s legs and hooves. Vet wrap is not intended to remain on the horse for a long time without being changed or redressed.

Polo wraps - another type of bandage usually made of fleece and quite stretchy. Polo wraps are intended for protection during riding, ground work, and turn out. Polo wraps are often used on performance horses that are exhibited in a high-performance sport such as reining, dressage, and cutting because they are less likely to slip during an intricate movement than boots. They do not necessarily provide support but they provide protection to the bones, tendons, and ligaments.

Standing wrap - protects the horse’s legs, tendons, and ligaments while the horse is in the stall. It can be used to promote circulation, to keep a skin irritation or a wound clean, and to apply topical medication. Standing wraps can also be used dry which means that there is not a substance, such as liniment or medication, underneath them on the leg. Standing wraps are made of cotton or quilted fabric with a Velcro closure bandage to hold it in place after it is applied to the horse’s lower leg.

Note: none of these bandages should be on the horse for a long time without being periodically taken off to check for circulation problems and breakdown of the skin. Consult your veterinarian for specifics.

If you take care of horses, it is a good idea to have vet wrap on hand for emergencies and wound care. A vet can come to your barn and apply the vet wrap but it is easy enough to use for horse owners to do it themselves. If you frequently show your horse, you will often find vet wrap sold in tack and equipment stores. Some agricultural and feed stores may carry it as well.

How Is Horse Vet Wrap Used?

Veterinarian showing off horse wrapped leg

Vet wrap has numerous uses around the stable and beyond your horse. It can be used for leg bandage wrap, organization, grips and lots more. Some are:

  1. Bandage wrapping for wounds.
  2. Protect hooves when being treated with a poultice or when a shoe is off.
  3. Wrap a pregnant mare’s tail prior to foaling so it doesn’t get in the way of the birthing process.
  4. Hold IV's in place on the horse’s neck.
  5. Temporary tourniquet (should not be left on for a long period of time).
  6. Supportive leg wraps or apply to your current leg wraps when the Velcro falls off.
  7. Fix your manure rake handle or any other wooden handled tool to avoid splinters.
  8. Apply to reins so novice riders will know where to hold their hands.
  9. Use it on tack such as reins, bridles, and tail sets to provide a stronger hold on buckles, snaps, and hooks as well as protect the horse from rubbing.
  10. Wrap your horses tail up to help it grow long, strong, and thick.
  11. Repair broken brushes and combs and other grooming tools.
  12. Stick over tops of nail heads or other sharp objects in stalls, trailers or pastures.
  13. Cover the fraying end of a lead rope or cover the chain on a lead shank to keep it from tearing up your hands.
  14. Cover a hackamore noseband or on a side pull to protect your horse’s sensitive skin.
  15. Place over buckles, straps etc. to help keep your horse from removing sheets and blankets.
  16. Covering objects like electrical cords so if your horse chews on it, it reduces the risk of electrical shock.
  17. Cover the metal handle on water buckets during the winter to help keep your hands warm and prevent slippage.
  18. Keep your jeans folded at your ankle so your chaps will fit.
  19. To differentiate your tack from others.

Horse at parade with white vet wrap as a tail wrap


What Size Vet Wrap Works for Horses?

Sizes range from 1 to 6 inches in width. Most people use a 4-inch vet wrap for horses. It works well for large animals or large injury support. Also, horses get wrapped a lot more often than livestock.

Tear vs. Non-tear Vet Wrap

Once you wrap a leg, how do you sever the wrap from the roll? There are two ways: tear it or cut with scissors. Some types of vet wrap bandages like WildCow Vet Wrap can be torn off the roll by hand, so you don’t have to use scissors to cut it. Other vet wrap bandages do not easily tear from the roll and have to be cut.

The numerous uses for vet wrap include controlled compression, immobilizing injuries and securing equipment and devices to animals. The option of the bandage being easily torn is sometimes better for these uses than the other option. Some horses can be flighty and the risk for injury to the horse and yourself will increase when you are working with a sharp pair of scissors around a nervous horse.

Vet Wrap Brands

Vet wrap is the generic name for a vast array of products that all have a similar function and design. Vetrap is the name of the bandage tape made by 3M. Many horse owners are satisfied with Vetrap and believe that it is more flexible and sticky than other brands such as Andover CoFlex or PowerFlex.

Other horse owners don't recognize a difference among brands if the bandage tape has the same elastic qualities. Generic wraps are  less expensive in comparison to 3M Vetrap and some horse owners simply choose generic vet wrap due to the price difference and the availability.

Do you have a preferred brand or unique ways you use vet wrap for your horse?

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