No leg, no horse. Horse-people learn this saying early on, and protecting your horse’s legs becomes even more important when competing. In polo and polocrosse the ponies’ legs are in danger of damage by the mallet, balls and other horses’ legs due to the close contact and barging. The usual risk of strain and stress is amplified by the excessive turning, sharp stops and short, furious runs.
Along with our experts, Ian and Kerry Lynn, Janna Strehlau and Kevin Rixon, HQ gives you the lowdown on wrapping and supportive measures that you should use on your polo pony.
Bandages are essential for supporting the tendons and ligaments as well as protecting the horse from the mallet, ball and other horses’ legs, explains Kerry. They should be used when practising and competing.
In polo, proper support should be absolutely non-negotiable.
Different kinds of bandages
There are several different kinds of wraps and bandages including elasticated and Velcro bandages. Kerry suggests sticking to polarfleece and Velcro because the elasticated bandages.
Kerry and Ian use polarfleece as their material of choice. “There is a certain amount of elasticity and give in the bandage,” says Kerry. It also allows for padding. Foam inserts can be used for extra protection.
How to apply bandages
Applying a bandage correctly can be difficult. If it’s too tight it can restrict blood flow and cause issues, but if applied too loosely it will offer no protection. “The tension when putting the bandage on should be the same as if you are putting on a support bandage for yourself,” says Kerry. “It must offer even, firm pressure.”
What about boots?
“I like to take leg protection a little more seriously than just bandages,” says Janna. “Bandages are good but I like to add large tendon boots in front over the bandages.” Her favourite boots are air flow eventing leather boots. They offer great protection as well as good ventilation. Medicine boots are another good option.
Kevin is also serious about protecting his ponies’ legs. “The more leg you are able to protect, within comfort and flexibility for your horse, the better,” says Kevin.
Kevin likes the Professional Choice medicine boots made with intensity foam and easy-to-fasten Velcro straps. They offer shock absorption and safe cushioning for impact.
It is as important to protect the coronary area and hooves as it is to offer support and protection to the leg and fetlock. A blow from a mallet, ball or another pony’s legs can cause serious damage to all these areas and serious problems for the horse in the future. Horses also often overreach onto these sensitive areas when stretching across the field and the subsequent bruising can be very painful.
Text: Peta Daniel. Photography: Janna Strehlau
The full article appears in the March 2015 issue (97) of HQ Magazine.