Wound Care

An Amateur’s Approach to Applying Standing Wraps

Standing wraps are an excellent tool to have in your horse-care arsenal. They can be used for several reasons, including support of the lower limbs during trailering, wound care on the lower limbs, and overnight support of the tendons and ligaments in the lower limbs after a hard workout.
Maybe you've seen other people apply standing wraps, but it seems intimidating to you. There are some important rules to follow when applying standing wraps for maximum effectiveness and safety. Here's a step-by-step guide to applying standing wraps correctly.
1. First gather your supplies. You'll need bandage quilts and standing wraps or polo wraps to wrap your quilts with. Generally, you'll need longer quilts for hind limbs and shorter quilts for fore limbs. These can be found at local feed stores or online.
2. Clean the lower legs thoroughly before applying your wrap. You do not want to wrap over wet or dirty legs, as this can create painful rubs.
3. Roll up your quilts and wraps before you begin. This will make wrapping more efficient so you are not struggling with long amounts of material. To roll up your standing wraps or polo wraps, start by folding the Velcro section on top of itself. This will cause the Velcro to face out when you're finishing your wrap.
4. Begin by placing the end of your quilt on the inside of the leg. You should be looking at the inside of the rolled up portion of the quilt as you work your way around the leg. It is very important to wrap the left legs counter-clockwise and the right legs clockwise. This creates an even front-to-back pressure on the tendons. One phrase to help remember this technique is "tendons in," as in pulling the tendons toward the inside of the cannon bone. Hold your quilt in place after it has been completely wrapped around the leg.
5. Start your standing wrap or polo wrap on the inside of the leg, just as you did with the quilt, about halfway down the leg. As you wrap, use a steady, even pressure spiraling down to the base of your quilt, back up to the top, and once more down to about the halfway point. Each turn around the leg should cover about 50% of the wrap's width. Use your Velcro to secure the wrap. If your wraps are for shipping purposes, longer quilts are more suitable so you create a sling for the fetlock. Otherwise, your wrap should end just above the quilt and the fetlock. The wrap should be smooth from top to bottom, void of any wrinkles or bumps.

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Now that you know how to wrap, there are some cardinal rules to follow.
1. If you are wrapping an injury on one leg, wrap the corresponding leg for even support and circulation.
2. Always wrap legs pulling the "tendons in," and do not pull too tightly or too loosely. A poorly wrapped bandage can most often do more harm than good.
3. Standing wraps are for horses who are, you guessed it, standing. These bandages are meant for stall rest or trailering only.
4. Practice makes perfect. Your wrapping skills will only improve with time and experience. This is a great activity for rainy days when you can't ride.

Lastly, if you need to apply a bandage but don't feel confident in your wrapping abilities yet, don't attempt it. Call your vet for help!

Winter Wounds

January 3, 2015

Winter is officially here. The local weather has so far lived up to it’s predictions for having below average temperatures and above average precipitation this season. The high today was 19 with high wind gusts. Ouch! That really cuts into riding time. Since about Christmas we’ve also had some extremely heavy fog and mist all throughout the day.

I have one other change in my life that has cut into horsey time, and that is…I’m pregnant! Baby number two is on the way! Our next little girl will arrive mid may. Wearing coveralls and several layers of clothing isn’t so fun these days. But, I’m not going to let this stop me. Yesterday I bundled up and went outside to brave the cold and check on my ponies. I haven’t been able to do much at all with them because of the weather besides feed them and give them a scratch, so they’re both out of shape. It’s amazing how long it takes to get into shape compared to how little time it takes to get out of shape. For exercise, Kona rode in a lesson and I longed Hot Rod.

It’s always good to take off your horse’s blankets frequently during bad weather to groom then and give then a good check for wounds. While grooming Hot Rod I ran into this little problem. It had obviously happened a few days before I was able to get to it, unfortunately. Caring for winter wounds has it’s ups and downs. I love that it was cold enough the wound practically froze, leaving it really clean. If this were summer it would be a gross, gooey mess. The downside is, I can’t just walk him over to the washrack and hose his leg down. He’d have an icicle for a leg! So I did the best I could and started by clipping the hair around the wounds so I could get a better look. I picked off all the scabs to check for infection and proud flesh development. I then disinfected it and ended by putting a thick salve on the scrapes.


A couple days later I washed the area with water and Betadine and this is how it looked. There are still a couple spots that might leave a tiny scar, but for the most part it looks good. I scrubbed all the proud flesh out of the wounds and applied more salve. If these wounds were deeper with more proud flesh I would not use a salve, but something more caustic. Thankfully, these were not deep. I can’t wait for warmer temperatures and more outside time. Enjoy the break while you can, Hot Rod and Kona!


Treating Hoof Abscesses

My older gelding suddenly came up very lame this past Monday. He has done this more times than I can count, due to his arthritis and his overall joint sensitivity, so I was not concerned in the least. I followed my usual program of a gram of bute for two to three days expecting the normal healing progress to occur. Instead, on Tuesday morning the lameness was not any better. In fact, I was afraid it was a little worse and I began to start going through the potential causes. He stood very cautiously on his front end and walked very lightly on his toes. I was nervous it was founder. However, this is not spring and there is absolutely no lush grass. No grass, in fact. He also gets little grain for breakfast and dinner. I have heard of horses developing Laminitis when they ate grass high in sugar in the fall, but I still had my doubts. I kept this in the back of my mind until it could be ruled out. After another day of lameness, I decided to call the vet. I text messaged one of our vet friends and asked if she’d be available that day and explained the situation. “Is it an abscess?,” she asked. OMG. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Of course, my mind always races to the worst prognosis, when in reality it made so much more sense for it to simply be an abscess. I cancelled my vet appointment and decided to treat his hoof for an abscess before dropping a lot of cash to have the vet come out.

Here’s what I did:

1. I first determined which foot had the abscess. Sometimes it’s easy to see which foot is affected, but in this case they both looked strained. However, upon further examination, I found that his front left hoof had considerable more heat and an elevated pulse. You can find the digital pulse of your horse by lightly touching the side of his foot, halfway down his pastern. I also was able to feel the pulse between the bulbs of his heel, on the backside of his hoof.

2. I made a warm water bath of iodine and Epsom salt. I put enough salt in the tub to the point that no more would dissolve.

















3. I soaked his affected hoof for 20 minutes, and I gave him some hay to occupy himself with so he would standstill.

4. Then I waited.Take a book, or a magazine. Trust me. It gets boring.

5. After 20 minutes, I dried off his foot with paper towels and packed the hoof with a poultice. This was a store-bought poultice, but you can also just make your own by combining iodine and Epsom salt until it forms a paste. Make sure the hoof is as clean as possible before you put this on. You can see some manure on his shoe from where he set his foot down momentarily, but the actual sole was clean.

6. I then covered the hoof in baby diaper. This is the best trick EVER. They are fantastic to keep in your first aid kit for times like this. I used a size 5.

7. Lastly, I covered the hoof in vet wrap for durability.

I planned on repeating this process later in the day, but when I went out to feed him in the evening he was loping and bucking! I pulled off the diaper and though I didn’t see an obvious area where the abscess had drained, it was completely evident that the abscess had come to the surface and drained on its own. That’s the cool thing about abscesses; soundness is restored almost immediately after the abscess bursts. The next day, I had my farrier look it over and sure enough, he found a hole under his shoe, near his white line, where it had drained. He packed it with more poultice and covered it with cotton before replacing the shoe again.

***Please keep in mind that I am NOT a veterinarian. This is how I’ve learned to treat abscesses from my own experience and research, and under the guidance of vets and farriers. If you are at all concerned your horse is foundering, go ahead and call the vet. Founder and abscesses can look so similar. When in doubt, call a professional.

Build Your Own Equine First Aid Kit

Today I’m going to show you what I put in my first aid kit for my barns. If you don’t have your own horsey first aid kit, this might be a good time to put one together. You never know when your horse is going to get into trouble, but I can assure you, it’s only a matter of time. Have you ever heard the saying that horses are “disasters waiting to happen?” Or my personal fave, “it’s not IF they’ll get hurt, but WHEN?” I would have to agree with both these statements. I keep my kits pretty basic. In the beginning I would stock up on supplies that I never ended up needing and I would eventually have to throw them out. Now I know better the supplies I’ll actually use in an emergency. I put all my supplies in a movable drawer cart, but anything would work. It’s also nice to have a little basket handy so you can grab what you need and carry it to the injured horse easily, instead of making trips or dropping everything on the way.

Let’s start with antiseptics and ointments:

1. & 2. For minor lacerations, I wash out wounds with an iodine antiseptic solution. Basically, I just squirt some iodine into a clean ketchup container and dilute with water. The squirt bottle works really well especially in hard to reach areas, and it also makes it easy to completely drench the wound.

3. Occasionally I’ll use hydrogen peroxide to wash a wound. I tend to use it on extra dirty areas because the bubbly foam can reach nooks and crannies that I can’t reach myself. Just a word of caution, hydrogen peroxide stings, so be ready for your horse to tell you so.

4. I really like using Vetericyn to topically treat small wounds.

5. Fura-Zone is used under sterile non-stick pads when wrapping a wound.

Supplies for wrapping leg wounds:

1. These cheap washcloths come in super handy for drying areas after they have been washed and/or cold-hosed. I have also found them useful when I’ve needed to apply pressure to an area to stop bleeding. Some people use gauze or cotton to do this. I personally think the washcloths are the best choice because they are reusable, and fiber does not stick to the wound like cotton would. *After I use them, I wash them in super hot water with ammonia to sterilize them.*

2. I then use a sterile non-stick pad to adhere ointment on the wound and create a barrier between the wound and the actual wrap.This is a critical step that should not be skipped. There’s nothing worse than removing cotton or anything else that sticks and dries into the wound. I have had to do that in a pinch when my, ahem, first aid kit was not fully stocked… Let me tell you from experience, the horse does not like it.

3. If the wound looks like it’s going to swell, I usually use my cotton roll to create some padding around the leg.

4. Then I use my trusty vet wrap to cover the area.

These are some extras that I always keep as well, though they may not be used as frequently:

1. Rubber gloves, of course, are always included in my kit. Do you want to clean an abscess with your bare hands? Didn’t think so.

2. Epsom salt and an Epsom salt poultice. These are great for drawing out abscesses in feet. Make a warm soaking solution with Epsom salt and some iodine and soak the affected hoof for about 10 minutes two times a day. You can also pack your horse’s hoof with a poultice and vet trap a baby diaper to the hoof to draw out infection.

3. DMSO. I have mixed feelings about DMSO and so I tend not to use it if I can avoid it. Here’s a great article talking about uses and controversy of Dimethyl Sulfoxide.


4. It is an absolute must to keep a thermometer in your first aid kit. When a horse just seems generally ill, it’s the first thing I do.

5. I also have a pesticide dust on hand. I hardly ever use it, but it’s there if I need it to ward off bugs of any nature.

6. This is huge bag of syringes of all sizes. Yet another item I rarely use, but just in case we have it on hand. Sometimes syringes comes in handy to clean deep wounds. I just take the needle out and put antiseptic solution into the syringe.

**Two very typical first aid kit supplies I do not have listed are phenylbutazone and banamine. I always keep bute in case of an emergency, but I do not use it without great consideration of the possible side effects. Not all horses experience serious side effects, but when they do it is most definitely serious. If I can avoid bute and use an aspirin powder I will, because you just don’t know if your horse will have a reaction or not. Banamine, or flunixin meglumine rather, is the same way and also trickier since it needs to be administered IV. If I have a situation that is serious enough to need banamine, I better have a vet out there first. This is obviously not how everyone does it and that’s fine. It is a matter of opinion, and this is what seems to work for me. Better safe than sorry.

We can’t forget the people! I also throw a few things in there for the humans:)

I hope this encourages you to get a kit together of your own. Today. Before your horse does anything stupid! Because it’s only a matter of time. Happy Monday!


About Allie

About Allie

Welcome to my blog! My name is Allie and my passion is caring for horses. My days consist of feeding, cleaning, and nurturing my two favorite things: horses and my little girl! I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in equine ownership and life as a business-owning mommy!