Bandages? Boots? Do they really help prevent injury?

Many of us use leg wraps religiously (in Dressage, at least). But are they proven to actually prevent concussion / strains or are we just being traditionalist?

I can understand leg protection for jumpers and eventers, and the western disciplines where there may be knocks to the leg.

Research I have read indicates that most bandaging does nothing, as the forces that go through a horses leg are phenomenal. (The exception is the sports medicine boot). Also I have heard that bandaging only in front causes the horse to put more weight onto the forehand.

I don't really know what to make of it all. What do you think?

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Interesting discussion! Something to add I think is the consideration for how your horse travels. I had a TB that had a bit of a winging problem and would sometimes hit his other foreleg. He had an old splint injury as a result and I always put boots on his front. My young boy is quite close behind so I put back and front boots on him (and occasionally only back). He actually rubs them together when he is tired or being lazy. Part of me thinks they need to learn to carry themselves properly, but I hate to see an injury that stays with them for life (either as a scar or splint).
I'm quite old fashioned--I would wrap with bandages/cotton for trailering, and if necessary to help resolve an injury. Unless the horse was extremely weak I would never use boots (and I never had a horse that weak, lucky me.)
Besides trailering, exactly what are you using bandages/boots for? Personally I would never buy a horse shown to me in bandages/boots, because either I would think the horse is unsound, or I would lack confidence in the horse's ability not to trip over his own feet. If I thought the horse REALLY needed them (not a fashion statement) I would be extra careful putting them on, and would stop using them the minute that the horse improved.
But then I'm an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy.
I almost never use wraps or boots when working horses. I am considering using them when I start to do more lateral work with the youngsters in order to protect them in case they clip themselves while they figure out how to move their feet... it will depend on how uncoordinated they seem. I don't think that they really will need them though, since they never clip themselves and we progress quite slowly so that they have time to absorb new things. They are also little tanks with very strong legs. Since they are young, I am also waiting for them to hit the worst of their "teens", and if they get a bit too hyper I may wrap them to protect them from knocks when they get "silly".

I do use boots/wraps on a couple of the other horses that I ride, since many owners do feel better if their horses' legs are wrapped. I have to admit that crisp white polos look nice. ;)


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