Bandaging Knees

Since the horse’s knee has more freedom to move than any other joint in the lower leg, it’s also the toughest to bandage. Bandaging may be needed for wounds, after surgeries, to hold ice packs in place, and for pressure to control swelling from inflammation. Some options are:

• Investing in ice wraps for knees can be wise since they can do double duty as outer wraps when the cooling effect isn’t needed. You’ll likely need to use a supporting standing bandage underneath, though, to keep them in place.

• Neoprene knee wraps are the most likely to stay in place without stall wraps below for support and provide a snug fit, but they do trap heat so sometimes aren’t the best choice for the injury.

• Stretchy support wraps are available for human knees in various sizes and can often be adapted to equine use. The hole that normally would sit over the human knee cap can be positioned over the accessory carpal bone prominence in the back of the horse’s knee.

• A long tube sock with the toe cut off, or a section of the lower leg from panty hose, makes a quick-and-easy emergency outer wrap for knees. Tape above and below the knee for added security to hold it in place.

• Double-decker stall wraps, one on the cannon bone and one over knee and upper forearm, can work in a pinch but it’s difficult to get standard stall wraps to fit smoothly over the horse’s knee and leg.

If you use these, be sure your polo or flannel outer wrap loops around the accessory carpal bone rather than putting pressure directly on it. This type of bandage works best if you use large sheet cottons for the upper portion, rather than standard quilts, and when multiple layers are used, such as a total of two or more layers of cotton with a polo or flannel over each layer.

• An old favorite for knees is the spider bandage. You’ll want to practice making it before you use it, though.To make a spider you need a sheet of muslin long enough to extend several inches above and below the knee, wide enough to overlap itself by about 6 inches. Fold the sheet in half and cut strips about ?? inch wide down the entire front/open edge of the muslin, extending about ?? of the way through the width.

To apply, first wrap sheet cotton around the knee, then tie the first two strips together as a knot. This combined top strip will be used to start a braid down the leg, using the paired strips immediately below it as the other two “arms” of the braid, much like braiding a tail or French-braiding hair.

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