A ban on bandages at events will come into effect this spring in the Netherlands due to concerns about the damage they can cause to horses’ legs during exercise.
Bandages will “no longer be allowed on the competition grounds” from 1 March in vaulting, and 1 April in dressage, jumping and driving. They are already banned in the event.
The Dutch federation (KNHS) said that the decision is based on scientific studies.
“You can’t ignore it, a lot of research has been done on this issue. It is clear that we should stop using them. Mainly because there are other ways if you want to protect the legs at the bottom,” said Fenna Westerduin, who manages the horse’s reputation at KNHS.
Morgan Lashley, an expert in sports medicine and rehabilitation at Utrecht University, added: “It has been investigated whether bandages can prevent overuse of the door. The answer is no, although tape does not help with this.
“You can fix the point with steel or plaster, but of course, you can’t climb with that. If you want to avoid knocking, tendon shoes work better than cloth.”
He also talked about the heat damage that can cause the tendons to stiffen, and the problems that can arise if bandages aren’t worn properly.
“When it’s loose, a horse can get caught in it.” If it’s too tight or things aren’t right, pressure can occur. I have also seen from the outside that the muscles have been injured due to the bandage being too tight,” he said.
H&H vet Karen Coumbe said she agreed that a bandage would not work, adding that she was also “always worried about wrapping around the legs or the bandage coming off at the wrong time”.
“I appreciate people better than me who have the skills to use them, but the current purpose of the boot seems smart to me,” he said.
“Tendon injuries, especially those involving upper extremity flexion, are a problem for horses that work at high speeds.
“It is clear that the muscles of the horse get very hot when working and if they wear bandages that the heat cannot handle, then there is a risk that they can be damaged.
“Research has been done on this including the use of thermography to show the heat generated during exercise, so it is important to cool down the legs properly after exercise.”
He also said: “Remember that when a horse has bandages and it’s too hot, they can’t take them off, which on their own is not helpful. None of us likes too much heat, but if we do, we can remove the extras.
“Good shoes have good ventilation and the legs will hopefully be protected but not too hot.”
You may also like:
Credit: Lucy Merrell
Professor Roger Smith FRCVS and Professor Michael Schramme examine the pros and cons
Credit: Andrew Sydenham/Horse & Hound
“Think about it – does your horse really need bandages?” asks former British team vet, Campbell Thompson of Nantwich Equine
Word: The future
Horse & Hound magazine, which comes out every Thursday, is full of the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, passion, vet and training advice. Find out how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door each week, including options to extend your subscription to our online service that provides you with the latest news and reports and other benefits.