Helping Others With Equines

Dee Howe

Educational Posts

Leg Wraps & Sweats

Posted by Dee Howe on May 9, 2018 at 5:05 PM

Please consult your veterinarian to treat any wounds or injuries. Only use leg wraps under their recommendations.

Here are some tips for different types of leg wraps that can be helpful for wounds or injuries.

Leg wrapping rules to follow are:

Use nitrofurizone with wraps that will be on for 24 hours only. Use Nolvasan for wraps that are to be on 48-72 hours. Only use DMSO on wraps that will be on 24 hours. Proud flesh, the over growth of cells, requires either lime, proud flesh ointment or powder once the wound has healed level with the outer skin.

When the temperatures are in the 90's and above use extra cotton & wrap more frequently to prevent the loss of hair on the leg.

When wrapping the leg remember to always use rolled cotton, sheet cotton, or cloth padding under the wrap. This will prevent damage to the tendon.

Start the wrap in the center of the cannon bone, go down and cross under and over the fetlock joint before going back up the leg.

Remember, a "vet wrap" is very elastic, shrinks and can stop circulation if put on too tight. Only pull tight on one side when applying the wrap. This although not to a lesser degree, also applies to a track wrap.

When putting a wrap over stitches, use plenty of cotton so you can put the wrap on tight. Ideally the wrap should stay on for three days. The less the skin can move, the better.

If one leg is wrapped (front or rear) the other (front or rear) leg should be dry wrapped for support.

Sweat wraps are used when a percussion injury, like kicking a fence, happens to the leg. With an injury such as this, excessive adema (swelling) consumes the leg reducing circulation and slowing down the healing process. If the swelling is not reduced the leg may not ever go down completely, even when healed, and the horse will be prone to "stocking up" when it is confined for long periods of time.

Before applying a sweat wrap, do about 5 tendon walks & rub across the coronet band to help circulation. Rinse the leg with cold water for about 10-15 minutes. Apply nitrofurizone ointment and DMSO all over the leg from the knee down. You will blister the skin if it is left on longer than 24 hours. Next wrap with cellophane, cotton and either vet wrap or a track wrap. A sweat wrap should not be on for more than 24 hrs. At that time if the swelling persists you may reapply starting with the cold water. If the swelling is down then replace with a dry wrap.

Dry Wraps are used when a horse is traveling, being stalled and is known to stock up, and in the case of an injury, once the initial swelling is under control. At times you will have to alternate between a sweat wrap and a dry one.


Try to get the leg as clean as possible. You may still need cold water but you will need to dry it with towels and walking before putting the wrap on. You can use a liniment but let it dry before wrapping. If there is an injury apply nolvasan & gauze. Use some sort of cotton and then vet wrap or track wrap.

Hock Wraps are used when a horse injures itself on the joint or a little above, if you can, put it in a tie stall for the first 2-4 weeks to help the wraps stay on. Do tendon exercises and stretches to help circulation. A stall is the second option.

These wraps are one of the hardest to get to stay on. One must dry wrap the lower leg first to help keep the hock wrap up. Put a ring of "elasticon" around the gaskin above the injury. Put gauze over the wound. Use sheeted cotton and split it so the hock can stick out and then wrap it around the hock. Criss-crossing rolled gauze will help it stay in place. Use more elasticon to attach it to the ring on the leg. This helps the horse not be so irritated when you have to change the wrap.

Categories: Basic Care

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