Should I Use Polo Wraps?

Dressage horses are frequently seen wearing polo wraps.

I often found my horse’s legs hot after removing polo wraps. And I’ve been told that they don’t offer any kind of support, while other people won’t ride without them. Are they really that great? Do they support tendons and ligaments? All this makes me wonder if I should even bother to use them.

Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller DVM responds:

The use of wraps and boots is controversial, but overwhelmingly, riders seem to gravitate toward using them.Polo wraps are one of the oldest types of athletic wraps for horses and are commonly used in polo and dressage especially. There are benefits to using polo wraps:

1. Polo wraps protect the cannon bone region and the tendons and ligaments in that area.

Horses that play rough (like polo horses) often step on each other and get tangled up in one another’s legs. Devastating lacerations and bruises can occur if they aren’t wearing protection. Polo wraps offer a decent padded barrier to help protect the leg from these insults.

2. Polo wraps protect a horse from itself. 

Forging, cross-firing, and striking are all interferences in which a horse is hitting itself with a wayward hoof. These gait abnormalities can lead to splints and bucked shins, among other problems. Polo wraps are a simple, inexpensive way to help stop this collateral damage.

3. Polo wraps are versatile.

They are stretchy and conform nicely to a horse’s leg, which allows them to stay on during movement. For instance, dressage horses, polo ponies and cutting horses make intricate turning, twisting movements that can cause boots to slip.

To specifically answer your questions: Are they that great? Well, for the reasons stated above, I like polo wraps and can justify saying some great things about them.

However, as for their efficacy in “supporting” the tendons and ligaments . . . well, There’s no way that polo wraps are providing any kind of structural support. So, do they protect the leg? Yes. Do they provide structural support? No.

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