Although they’re a bit pricey for long-term daily use, self-adherent elastic bandages do many jobs well, and a supply should be on hand in every barn. These wraps are lighter than standard stall wraps, don’t usually absorb much water, and generally conform well to the area you’re wrapping.
Like with household duct tape, you’ll find countless jobs in the barn for these wraps beyond their intended uses. You can apply a few layers of any adhesive wrap when you need grip or padding, such as on bucket handles, knobs, faucets and hoof picks. A few layers around the foot rest of stirrups may provide a bit of extra grip, if you want or need that feature.
We’ve seen these bandages wrapped around pitchforks, twitch handles, halter and bridle crownpieces and even just to add color to some equipment or easily identify an item (for example, the fork with the red wrap is only used with hay). However, the most common uses for these wraps involve placing the wraps directly on horses.
Breeding-stock Tail Wraps
These wraps are great for reproductive exams, breeding and foaling. Flexus Plus is a particularly good choice since it’s the least likely to be applied too tightly. Note: No tail wrap should be left on a mare for extended periods of time. The arterial supply to the tail is easily cut off, resulting in loss of the tail below the area of compression. Self-adhesive wraps shouldn’t be used instead of standard tail wraps in most cases.
Compression and Stop Bleeding
We found the most compression can be obtained using Equisport or PowerFlex. Place the wrap over several layers of gauze when there is arterial bleeding. If you’re using Co-Flex or Vetrap, roll your gauze then secure the roll in place for better pressure.
For non-arterial bleeding, CoFlex or Vetrap provide plenty of pressure. The Flexus wrap may be snug enough for slow oozing, but we didn’t find it heavy enough for arterial bleeding.
PowerFlex is our least favorite for bandaging wounds, since we found it could fairly easily be applied too tightly and only stretches in one direction. We suggest using Co-Flex or Vetrap for difficult-to-wrap areas with lots of curves or boney points (e.g. ankle, knee, hock) and for the most flexibility in the amount of pressure applied to the wound. If a large amount of swelling is expected (e.g. tendon pulls/strains), we think Flexus Plus would be good for the first day or two, since it appears to apply the least pressure.
Support for Working Legs
Nothing can take all the strain off a leg, but tendon/ankle wraps do provide some protection against overflexion or injuries caused by twisting, slipping and landing unevenly. When the horse has had a prior injury, support wraps are especially important and provide comfort to the horse just like a wrist or ankle brace does when we wear it.
A self-adherent wrap is lightweight and interferes the least with the horse’s natural gaits and adding minimally, if at all, to his workload.
We found the most rigid support with PowerFlex. However, since it only stretches in one direction, care must be used to properly form a sling for the fetlock support. We found this wrap difficult to apply smoothly in this area.
The Equisport wrap seemed to have more strength and support than regular Vetrap and conforms extremely well to all areas. For horses that need less support, we think Co-Flex or Vetrap will do.
Feet, Hooves and Hoof Packs
When you need to poultice a foot or provide protection for an injury or pared-out abscess, these wraps are easy to apply and stay in place extremely well on feet. The only problem is longevity. We found PowerFlex lasts the longest, followed by the EquiSport.
Price is not a big issue here. Vetrap and Co-Flex range from $1.30 to $2 per roll. Flexus Plus and Power Flex run 30?? to 50?? more per roll. We found EquiSport was the most expensive, from $2.50 to over $3 per roll.
Our first pick for a product to have in hand for multiple possible uses would be Vetrap. Although Co-Flex is close in its characteristics and strength, we found Vetrap applies more easily, making it less prone to wrinkles, and tears more easily when you need it to. For the best support for working horses, with enough flexibility to conform well at the ankle, we’ll go with the Equisport bandage.
For maximum compression and heavy-duty jobs like hoof wraps and grips for stirrup irons, Power Flex is our first choice.