Wrapping Polos: the Right Way


Polo wraps are one of the most common and one of the oldest types of protective equipment.  They were designed to protect the horse’s legs from interference caused by the other legs during work.  Polos are a long piece of fleece cloth that ranges from 4-6 inches wide, and 6-10 feet long.

There is a common misconception that polos are able to provide support to the leg; this is untrue.  Polo wraps do not, and cannot provide support to the leg.  For a leg to obtain support it must be partially or completely immobile.  Polos are a simple piece of cloth and cannot physically immobilize the leg of a 1000+ pound animal.  So, polo wraps provide protection, not support.

Because of this common misconception, many people wrap polos too far up the leg, or too far down onto the pastern.  When wrapping the legs in this manner the polos create interference with movement.

Also note the difference between polo wraps and standing bandages.  Many catalogs and websites switch the names of these two items because they appear very similar, but they have two separate uses.   Just remember that a polo is usually made of fleece or a thick material.  Standing bandages are usually made of cotton or a thinner woven material.  When looking at a picture in a catalog, the polo will appear fatter, while the standing bandage is skinnier when they are rolled up.

Remember: if done improperly, a polo can cause serious harm to a horses leg.  If there is uneven pressure a tendon could possibly bow.  If you do not want to risk this, use a splint boot or sports medicine boot instead.

Before you wrap:

You must first make sure your polo is rolled properly.  The easiest way to remember which way to roll your polo is if you connect your two Velcro pieces together as shown in the picture below.


Once your Velcro connects to each other, keep wrapping the polo in the same direction.  However, you may need to start at the fold on the top of the wrap making the wrap almost double up in the beginning like in the picture below.  This will make sure that your wrap will start off nice and tight.


Rolling your polo as tight as possible will make it easier to wrap onto your horses leg. Below is a polo that is wrapped incorrectly because it is too rectangular, and a wrap that is too loose; you will not be able to roll these  onto the leg.  A polo that is rolled up correctly is also pictured.  Notice how it is tight and uniform.



Before you begin wrapping run your hand down the leg to wipe away any excess dirt that could cause irritation.

Place the wrap on the inside of the cannon without unrolling it.  If the end of the polo is facing towards the hindquarters while it is resting on the cannon, then the rest of your wrap should be correct.  If the end is facing the hindquarters but is away from the leg you will be wrapping the polo on wrong, and when you are finished your Velcro will be backwards.


You will always be wrapping inside to outside, and front to back.  So, the left legs will always be wrapped counterclockwise and the right legs will always be wrapped clockwise.

Start in the middle of the cannon and roll the polo downward.  When you do so, you will be wrapping halfway down the previous track of polo.  This way you will never have a gap between polos.


Once you reach the very top of the pastern, wrap downwards and around the fetlock as to cup the fetlock.  Your polo should just barely be covering the horse’s ergot, and not be covering any of the pastern. This is the beginning of the ‘V,’ which you will be doing twice.


Next, bring your polo back upwards and roll it around the cannon once. You will notice a shallow inverted ‘V’ shape formed in the center of the front of the fetlock. Now, do the same two motions over again; roll downward and back up over the same ‘V’ shape you had before.  The reason we create the ‘V’ shape twice is because the fetlock is the most vulnerable part of the leg and receives the most amount of impact from the other legs.


Once you have created the second V then roll the wrap up the rest of the leg.  Keep in mind that your goal is to end with the Velcro at the top of the cannon.  So, if your wrap is extremely long, or your horse’s cannons are very short, you may have to cover more than half of the previous wrapping.  If you reach the top and there is still too much, simply start wrapping downwards again, but keep it in mind for next time.


Make certain that while you’re wrapping you’re applying even pressure! If parts of your wrap are tighter than others you may bow a tendon!

Additionally, make sure there are as little wrinkles as possible in your wrap.  Wrinkles also cause uneven pressure and are hazardous.

If your Velcro is bad:

If your Velcro seems to not be able to stick to itself then taping the polo on is appropriate.  Masking tape is the most appropriate tape to use because it cannot stretch; stretchy tape will wrap too tight and a leg could become seriously injured.  If you only have stretchy tapes make sure to lay the tape over the leg; do not wrap it around! There are two ways to use the tape as shown in the pictures below.

First is to simply wrap the tape around itself, or you can wrap in a three tier system.  Both are appropriate.


Like everything in the horse world, learning to wrap polos takes PATIENCE and PRACTICE.  Never settle for an OK wrapping job because you could potentially injure your horse.


Preparing a Show Tail for Pasture

So, your horse has a long show tail or you would like to grow out your horse’s tail, but you would want to put your horse out to pasture.   Follow these simple steps for a horse who can enjoy the pasture while still growing a beautiful, thick show tail.

If your horse already has a long show tail it will be easy to put it up for pasture.  However, if your horse’s tail is not already long enough to reach the middle of his cannons, I would suggest waiting for it to grow naturally before you wrap it up.


  • Braiding bands of any color
  • One roll of Vet-Wrap, or equivalent material
  • 15 strands of bailing twine, or equivalent material
  • Scissors

*You must also know how to braid

Step 1)

Make sure your horses tail has been freshly washed and conditioned so you do not wrap dirt in with the tail.  Also, it is crucial that your horse’s tail is completely dry before wrapping.  If it is not dry the tail could mold and fall out.


Step 2)

Separate all of the protective feathers from the tail.  These feathers are located at the top and middle of the tail bone.  These feathers never grow quite as long as the longest part of the tail, but they may even be long enough to reach the middle of the cannon.  These feathers are a tool to keep bugs and flies away from the body and must be separated from the main tail.


Step 3)

Braid the rest of the tail.  Although this may seem simple, this is the trickiest step.  Your braid will start 2-3 inches from the tail bone. If the braid starts too far away from the tail bone, the wrap will act like a pendulum and rip out all the hair. If the braid starts too close and is too tight on the tail bone, blood flow will be lost and the hair will FALL OUT!  That is why it is very important to make sure that the beginning of your braid is loose, while the rest of the braid is tight.  These are the reasons that this step is so crucial.  If done incorrectly the tail will either rip out or completely fall out. You must find the perfect balance between looseness and tightness so you neither loose circulation in the tail bone, nor have all the hair rip out while it is in use. This could require practice.

The tail bone is found at the top side of the thumb demonstrating that the braid starts a few inches lower.  Notice how loose the beginning of the braid is, then it becomes tighter.


Step 3)

At the top of your braid separate the first two braid strands.  Take the braid and wrap it through the top of the braid to create a loop as shown in the photo below.


Step 4)

Cut about a foot and a half of vet-wrap from your roll and carefully wrap the loop created in the last step; pictured in the photo below.  This step assures that the bailing twine you will use does not rub against the hairs of the tail and wear them off.


Step 5)

Carefully tie the bailing twine onto the vet-wrapped loop.  Make sure that the middle of the bundle of twine is tied on the loop so that it is even on both sides.  Tighten the knot as much as possible so it does not loosen later on.


Step 6)

Unravel the beginning of your vet-wrap about a foot and slip it through the top of the loop where you slipped the braid through.  This will create a makeshift seal for the rest of your wrap and prevent dirt from getting in.  After you have sealed the top simply wrap your vet-wrap up and down the braid loop.  Make sure you wrap every part; from the very bottom of the twine not, to the top of the braid loop.  Do NOT wrap onto the tailbone!  All of your vet-wrap will be used.


Step 7)

Cut off any access twine that is touching the ground.  Measure this out by pulling the tail straight to the floor and cutting the twine even with the horse’s fetlocks.  Lastly, take down your horse’s feathers and gently comb them out with your fingers.


Your show horse is now ready for pasture!