Bandaging has been done in one way or another throughout the ages. In fact, the basics of the concept have really not changed much through the centuries. Sounds simple, right? Well, if you get on the Internet to research bandaging, you will find lots of “how-to” articles that give a great description of exactly how to apply various types of bandages.

Okay, so now you have directions. What types of materials do you use? Now it gets trickier. You can choose from literally thousands of bandaging materials. To top it off, terms like “dressing” actually mean different things depending upon the product you are considering. For the beginner, it might seem a bit daunting.

So, following is a helpful guide to the terminology and uses of a variety of bandaging types and their applications.

The Terms

For the most part, bandages are applied to horses for a few basic reasons:

  1. To provide support for tendons and ligaments during work;
  2. To prevent or reduce swelling;
  3. To protect from injury;
  4. To provide a barrier from contamination; and
  5. To aid in healing.

Primarily lower legs are bandaged, so we will focus there.

“Bandages” break down into three main parts: the bandage itself, the dressing, and sometimes a poultice or wound dressing.

The Bandage

The bandage itself is a piece of material designed to support a medical device of some sort, such as a dressing or splint. It is often made of an elastic material to offer some compression. One innovation welcomed by horse owners was the introduction of Vetrap by 3M in the 1960