From Endurance to Dressage
My horses have had to wear a lot of different types of bandages to aid in healing a bunch of types of wounds. I am going to let you in on a little secret; I actually love bandaging legs. It puts me in a zen-like state - a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. It's the same feeling you get while cleaning tack or stalls or vacuuming. I only wish it weren't my horses' legs that needed the bandaging.
So what makes this bandaging job different from all the rest? Well like I mentioned yesterday, I am using the hydrophilic foam pads soaked in saline solution instead of Telfa pads soaked in white lotion, a liquid that irritates the skin which slows epithelialization to reduce the chance of proud flesh. That's how we healed Izzy's massive leg wound a few years ago.
This bandage is fairly simple and takes me less than five minutes to apply. That makes me wish I had four legs to bandage to lengthen the amount of time I get to spend in that zen state. Just kidding, sort of.
The first step is to soak the pad in saline solution. I pour the saline solution on top and then press down on the foam pad to encourage it to soak up as much solution as possible. I actually do both pads at the same time to reduce any waste. I've already ordered more saline solution as the bottles I bought from the vet were smaller than I thought.
Once the hydrophilic foam pads are soaking in saline solution, I start removing the bandages from the lesser wound. I like to do the easy one first because there's less chance that Speedy will get grumpy. By the time I get to the more severe wound, he's getting tired of me. If I started with that one, getting the second one done would be more of a chore which means no zen moment for me.
Once the bandages are removed, I gently wipe the wound down with water, you can also use a Betadine solution, making sure that nothing is stuck to the wound. I clear away any slime or goop that has built up. The wound will usually bleed, so I try to wipe that up as well.
When everything is clean, I carefully apply the wet hydrophilic foam pad, making sure to center it over that wound.
While the moisture of the pad will nearly hold it to the leg, I am always careful not to let go as it really sucks to see all of your hard work and money hit the dirt. Ask me how I know. So while carefully keeping the pad in place with a finger or two, I grab a cotton roll and start winding that on.
Everyone has their own preference, but I like to roll all of my bandages towards the inside of the horse. That means clockwise for the right legs, and counter clockwise on the left legs. I think Dr. Tolley rolls all of his in the same direction, so it probably doesn't really matter.
The good thing about using so much cotton roll is that you cannot over-tighten this bandage. This is a good thing because you don't want it to slide down, so when I start wrapping, I pull that vet wrap as tightly as I can. I always start in the middle and then go up, leaving a small bit of cotton showing at the top. Then I wind the bandage back towards the bottom, also leaving some cotton showing. I like to go up and down a few different times, but I always end in the middle. Leaving that little bit of cotton hanging out at the top and bottom seems to keep the bandage in place better than does sealing the cotton.
And the of course, I repeat everything on the more severe wound. Just as a warning to those who are squeamish, the next picture contains seeping blood and a close up photo of the major wound.
Then I repeat everything with the second wound. While it looks pretty bad, it is healing, albeit slowly. And in fact, we kind of want it to go slowly. If the skin cells work too quickly, we run the risk of the cells piling up on top of each other which is what we call proud flesh. Right now, what we want is for the skin cells to grow across the wound, epithelialize, so that they meet each other on a level plane.
I am wrapping it every other day, so this photo is from Wednesday. I'll take the bandages off again today. Hopefully it looks slightly narrower than it did on Wednesday. I hope to ride this weekend, but if it is still bleeding like it did on Wednesday, I'll keep it to a walk. Speedy needs the exercise for sure, and his brain could use a distraction.
Fortunately, Speedy really does have a good brain, so while he doesn't enjoy having his wounds poked at, he has learned that I am going to poke him gently. He stands perfectly still for the whole process, making my job a lot easier. That's a good thing as we have a lot more bandaging to go.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: