Wrapping a horse’s legs: A simple concept or an art form? The answer is a bit of both.
Polo wraps are long (up to 12 feet) fabric strips about 4 inches wide that we wrap around a horse’s lower legs to protect the tendons and ligaments from injury if he hits himself while exercising. Polos are smart additions to your riding routine if:
- Your horse’s legs sometimes “interfere” with (hit or bump against) each other during movement.
- You’re starting to perform more demanding lateral work.
- Your horse has a splint (basically, a hard, bony bump) on the inside of his leg.
In this article, we will take you through the steps involved in putting on a polo wrap and offer best practices for protecting your horse’s legs.
How To Roll a Polo Wrap
Before you start wrapping your horse’s leg, make sure the polo has been rolled up correctly. To roll a polo, follow these steps:
- Unravel the wrap, trying to keep it off the ground and as free of dirt and debris as possible. You might sit on a track trunk or stool to make this step easier.
- Take the Velcro end, and connect the two pieces together, so they form a fold.
- From the end of that fold, start rolling the wrap down its entire length.
- Keep the wrap as tight and uniform as you can while you roll. (Tip: Try rolling the wrap down the top of your thigh.) This will make it easier to put on your horse’s leg.
How To Apply Polo Wraps to Your Horse
Before you begin wrapping your horse’s leg, use a brush to remove dirt, debris, and loose hair that could irritate your horse if trapped beneath the wrap. Then, follow these steps:
- Place the end of the wrap on the inside middle of your horse’s leg—that’s halfway up the cannon bone. Ensure the edge of the wrap points straight down toward the fetlock (ankle) joint.
- Begin wrapping inside to outside and front to back. You’ll pass the wrap over the horse’s shin, toward his rear, and around the tendons at the back of the leg. Cover about half of the previous layer of wrap with each pass.
- Continue wrapping down the horse’s leg, keeping consistent tension (not so tight as to constrict the leg and tendons but not so loose that the wrap slips down as you ride). When you pass the wrap around the front of the horse’s leg, you can pull it lightly toward the rear of the horse to keep it secure. Don’t pull it around the tendons at the back of the leg.
- When you get to the fetlock joint, wrap around the base of joint but not below it—you don’t want to restrict your horse’s movement. It should just barely cup the fetlock. Then, start wrapping back up the horse’s leg. If you’ve done this step correctly, the wrap might form a shallow V at the front of the leg.
- If you’ve judged the length of wrap correctly, you should reach the Velcro end right below the horse’s knee. If not, keep wrapping back down the horse’s leg until you do.
- Secure the end of the wrap with the Velcro strip, and make sure the finished product is smooth and wrinkle-free and not bunched up or sagging.
If applied incorrectly, polo wraps can cause rubs, bruises, and tendon injuries or cause your horse to trip. When wrapping your horse’s legs, maintain consistent tension throughout the process—just enough to keep the polo securely in place without compromising soft tissues or circulation.
Knowing how to put a polo wrap on a horse’s leg is an essential skill for every horse owner. Practice wrapping your horse’s legs several times while he’s tied or cross-tied (and, ideally, with an experienced horse person’s guidance) to get the hang of it. Over time, you’ll begin to develop a feel for the appropriate placement and tightness of the wrap, and applying it will become second nature.