How to Apply a Hoof Bandage

You may be instructed to wrap your horse’s hoof while treating a hoof abscess or other injury or after surgery on the foot. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Diaper (premie or newborn size) or several layers of sheet cotton cut into a square large enough to cover over the coronet band. A face cloth if no other option.
  • Vetrap® or other similar bandage material (found at most any feed/tack store) Note: this material should always be used over a protective soft bandage because it can constrict and essentially cause a tourniquet.
  • Duct tape – Make a duct tap “placemat” by tearing approximately 8-10 inch strips and overlapping them vertically, then horizontally in at least 2-3 layers. This creates a durable, waterproof outer layer for your bandage.
  • Elastikon (a sticky thick tape material available from your veterinarian)
  • Poultice or antiseptic ointment as prescribed by your vet (i.e. icchthamol ointment or “Sugardine” (simply betadine mixed with sugar) dressing (available from your vet or the pharmacy)
  • +/- materials for a lower limb bandage

As always, start with a clean and dry foot and be sure you are working on a clean surface. Apply the poultice or dressing as directed by your vet. Wrap the hoof using a diaper or sheet cotton. Diapers are extremely convenient to use, provide padding and are absorbent. Unfold the diaper and place the fold at the toe of the hoof. Then use the adhesive tabs to hold it in place on the hoof. It may be helpful to secure it lightly with Vetrap® (never wrapping the Vetrap® any higher than the diaper!). If you are using sheet cotton, you will have to use the Vetrap® to secure the cotton to the hoof (again, never higher than the wrap). Cut the duct tape mat at the corners to make it easier to fold the sides up to the hoof wall. Next, place your duct tape “placemat” on the bottom of the foot. Now you can let your horse stand on the foot. Think of it as tapering the bandage like a vase. You can be firm in your application. If you are too gentle the wrap will fall right off. Ideally the diaper or cotton should cover the coronet band. NEVER apply duct tape or Vetrap® directly over the coronet band. Finally you can use Elastikon® around the top of the wrap at the pastern (this material is relatively safe to use slightly above the bandage to secure it to the hair-though don’t pull it tight like a tourniquet!) to prevent bedding and debris from getting down into the bandage. Alternatively, you can apply a lower limb bandage that overlaps the hoof bandage and again use Elastikon® to secure the two. Every horse wears a hoof bandage differently and depending on the thickness of your duct tape you may need to reinforce the toe or the bottom of the wrap so that your horse does not wear through the bottom of the wrap. The more he moves, the more it will wear through.

Protective “medicine boots” are another alternative to hoof bandages. However, you must be sure that you use a boot that fits your horse properly and that you check it very regularly to avoid pressure sores over the heel bulbs and coronet.