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Washing & Wrapping Legs in the Summer Heat


I have a five-gaited American Saddlebred who lives with my trainer and stays in standing wraps when he’s not working. He has incredibly sensitive skin, and we’re having a lot of problems with him tolerating the wraps in the Texas heat and humidity. It seems as though we’re constantly fighting infections on his skin. They are washed daily with betadine, and his groom lets them dry before being rewrapped with clean wraps, but they get sweaty from the heat. He needs to be wrapped with the level of work he does, but we’re stuck. Any suggestions? – Marianne R. from Georgetown, TX

Taking care of competitive legs during summertime is a continual task at the best of times. Add high heat and humidity into the scenario and you have to stay on top of issues that might include stocking up and the dreaded fungus. For many, continual wrapping of legs is required whilst horses are in their stalls.

Washing legs daily with betadine can be very harsh on your horse’s skin, stripping them of their natural oils, which act as defense mechanisms. I would recommend changing your shampoo, and there are a variety you could try. Ivory dish soap is great for sensitive skin, as well as head and shoulders. My favorite medicated shampoos include Eqyss Microtek Medicated Shampoo, Epi-sooth and EquiFit AgSilver Maintenance CleanWash. These are great for removing the fungus and helping the skin to retain its natural oil balance. If possible, I would try washing the legs at least a couple of times a week with just plain water (no shampoo at all).


Towel drying the legs after washing is paramount. Not only does it get rid of excess water, but the massage action helps the circulation in the lower legs, bringing blood to the surface and then helping legs to dry quicker. If horses are put away in stalls wet, the drying process takes longer due to decreased airflow. Hand grazing is the best and quickest way to dry the legs however, if this is not an option then allow the horse to stand in cross ties with a fan blowing onto his legs until they are dry.

Prior to wrapping, apply baby powder liberally to the legs. I find this helps avoid irritation and dampness from developing under the wraps.

What type of wraps and bandages are being used?
I have found no-bow wraps with flannel bandages help to maintain the coolest environment. For me, the pillow quilt’s layer of polyfoam in the center is thicker than no-bows and can add to the heat problem. Regular stretch stable bandages are not 100% cotton therefore not as breathable as flannel bandages.

I hope I have provided some tips that you have not tried yet!! Good luck and let me know if any of this helps.

Emma Ford

Emma Ford is one of the most respected grooms in US Eventing. Born and raised in the UK, Emma came to the US in 1998 to groom for top eventer Adrienne Iorio. After seven years with Adrienne, Emma moved to True Prospect Farm to work with five-time Olympian and 13-time USEA Leading Rider of the Year, Phillip Dutton. During her tenure with Phillip, Emma cared for many famous equine athletes including Connaught, TruLuck, Woodburn, and Mystery Whisper. She’s groomed at Burghley, Blenheim and Boekelo, cared for horses at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships, 2007 Pan Am Games, and 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and groomed at Rolex Kentucky and Fair Hill International every year since 2001. And now she’s here to help you! Submit your grooming questions and Emma just may be able to teach you a few of her tricks!

Posted in Ask The Groom

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3 comments on “Washing & Wrapping Legs in the Summer Heat
  1. Savannah Whisler says:

    Also after washing the legs, and towel them off without completely drying them, we spray 70% isopropyl alcohol on their damp legs and them wrap them. This prevents the fungus and irritation.

  2. Jenn says:

    I had a similar problem with a horse I was showing. I tried everything, washing leg wraps and boots everyday,cleaning his legs and keeping them dry. I could not get the rash on his legs to go away. He was a paint and had white legs. I thought it was just a fungus rash from having boots and leg wraps on everyday. It turned out he had developed an allergy to the oils on shavings used to preserve them. They always use cheap shavings at shows, so they aren’t good quality. He was then bedded with wood pellets and the rash went away within a day!

  3. Natalie says:

    I know this is an older post, but I’ve got to suggest the Equiflexsleeves. They are more like a compression sock to eliminate inflammation, but because they are a thinner material they allow for better airflow and temperature regulation. I use them after XC or for long trailer rides and haven’t had any issues with swelling legs since. I did end up having to order a smaller size though than what I originally bought because they would slip when he wore them overnight. A note on the slipping- he has not had any adverse affects (swelling, soreness, etc) as a result of the flexsleeve slipping down his leg.

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