Given the almost constant use they are put to, a horse’s knees are vulnerable to stress, fatigue and traumatic injury. It may be that your veterinarian has recommended a knee bandage to help heal an injury or surgical site, or to provide support for a weak joint.
For whatever reason a knee bandage might be required, it is important to know the correct way to apply one so it serves its intended purpose and doesn’t harm the horse in any way.
Knee bandages can help in the following ways.
Because the front leg is relatively straight and the knee bends and straightens as the horse moves about, wrapping and securing the bandage will require some special know-how to keep the bandage from ending up around the horse’s pasterns like saggy socks.
Fortunately, most horses tolerate having a knee wrapped without much fuss. However, it is always good to stay alert and be prepared to move out of harm’s way should your horse fidget, stamp its feet or react adversely while being bandaged.
As with any type of leg wrap, a knee bandage can be hazardous if applied incorrectly. There is always the risk of constricting vessels, tendons and ligaments or causing pressure sores if the layers are not applied smoothly, evenly and with just the right amount of tension.
Of particular concern with a knee bandage is preventing undue pressure on the two prominent points at the back and inside of the knee. A bandage that’s too tight or incorrectly applied can cause sores to develop there.
If you have never bandaged a horse’s legs before, ask your veterinarian or an experienced equine professional to demonstrate the proper techniques. Practice under his or her supervision before doing it on your own.
Due to the leg’s columnar shape and the fact that it’s wider at the knee than at the cannon bone, you will be working against gravity. You will likely have the best success with bandaging materials that conform to the shape of the leg and permit movement without slipping or loosening. A good elastic adhesive tape will be needed to keep the bandage securely situated over the knee.
If the bandage will cover a wound or surgical site, the materials should also be sterile. You will need:
A horse with a condition requiring a knee bandage should be confined to a stall or small run unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian.
Check the bandage several times a day to make sure it has not tightened, loosened or slipped out of place.
Make sure the bandage does not cut off circulation, compress tendons, create pressure sores (especially over the accessory carpal bone), or cause skin irritation, redness or discomfort.
Check by making sure a finger can easily be slipped beneath the bandage.
Monitor and evaluate the horse carefully. If the swelling develops above or below the bandage, lameness increases, or the horse becomes distressed or begins to bite, paw or rub the bandaged site, check the leg and/or contact your veterinarian.
Watch for any other signs of ill health. IF the horse becomes depressed, irritable, loses its appetite or has an elevated temperature, consult your veterinarian.
Change the bandage as directed by your veterinarian or at least every 2-3- days, or immediately if it becomes wet or soiled.
This brochure was produced through a joint venture between 3M Animal Care Products and the American Association of Equine Practitioners. To order brochures, please call 1-800-848-0829.