When is it appropriate to bandage a leg or wound? If it is appropriate, what is the best material to use? There is a growing variety of commercial bandaging material available to the horse owner and veterinarian; in one major tack store’s catalogue there are 11 pages devoted entirely to bandaging material and “leg apparel.” Much of what is used boils down to personal preference, but there are some basic rules when bandaging. The first rule is that a poorly applied wrap or bandage–or some types of bandage material applied in the wrong situation–can do more harm than good.

A general theme that applies to all bandaging–from the simplest of shipping wraps to the most elaborate full-leg medical bandages–is that bandages can be dangerous if not applied correctly. Bandages with wrinkles or bunches are dangerous. If there is not an adequate thickness of “wrap” material under the bandage, it is dangerous. If the bandage is too loose, it is dangerous.

A bandage more frequently is applied too loosely rather than too tightly. When asked how tight should a bandage be applied, the obvious response is “not too tight.” That’s like being asked what does pumpkin pie smell like–a pumpkin pie, of course. Not a big help, right? A commonly used gauge of bandage tightness is to “thump” the bandage. A properly applied leg bandage, if you flick it hard with your finger, should resonate a sound similar to that obtained when “thumping” a ripe melon or pumpkin. This is still subjective, as one person’s idea of a ripe melon might differ from another’s and the sound can differ depending on the material used, but the general idea is that the bandage should be uniformly snug.