polo wraps vs SMB - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 01-19-2012, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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polo wraps vs SMB

I just want to see what everyone uses for their western disciplines for leg protection. I personally use Professional Choice Elite front boots and bell boots then nothing on the back.

Some people that I ride with at penning use polo wraps. They say there is better protection and they are less bulky than SMBs. Plus the cost difference is huge between the two.

Ive noticed a few barrel racers using polo's as well.

Im trying to make my mind up if I should start using polos or stick with the pro choice boots. Every ones input would be great!

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post #2 of 49 Old 01-19-2012, 10:57 AM
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I use SMB's or Pegasus. Would not think of using polos. But, then, I have never seen a reiner in Polos, and they are SO much work, and easy to screw up. Smb and the Pegasus are pretty fool proof. You really don't have the worry about putting them on wrong and doing more harm than good. I personally do not use bell boots, since I don't have front shoes on mine, but many of my friends do.

On the rears I just use leather skids when I need them.

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post #3 of 49 Old 01-20-2012, 12:31 PM
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When I barrel raced I chose to use polo wraps all four legs and bells. This offered adequate protection and I never had any problems with leg injuries. But on really bad ground I would use SMBs. Using polos also lets you change things up and match what you are wearing.
But with penning and sorting, you have the added concern of the cattle kicking or stepping on your horses legs so I do prefer to use either SMBs or Classic Equine boots with bells. I will admit to occasionally using polos though if the cattle aren't as fresh. I am still addicted to the bling and matching from running barrels.
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post #4 of 49 Old 01-20-2012, 12:47 PM
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Polo wraps offer no protection to the leg, other than from small nicks. I use Pro Choice SMB Elites.
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post #5 of 49 Old 01-20-2012, 12:59 PM
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I use smb for trail riding in bad areas

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post #6 of 49 Old 01-21-2012, 01:26 AM
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I have posted this before in other threads, but I haven't used boots for a few years now and switched to polos.

Sure it takes a little practice to use them properly but the way I was taught from a vet it provides excellent support. Granted the polos probably aren't as great as neoprene as far as protection with getting hit but I still haven't had any issues.

If I could get my videos off of my phone I would post a video of how I wrap polos for support.
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post #7 of 49 Old 01-21-2012, 02:13 AM
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Wrapping polo wraps are hard to do, but if done correctly there are studie suggesting they offer more support than any boot out there. But they are so easy to screw up, I only really use them for decorative events like a grand entry or carrying a flag. Too scared I'd mess them up.

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It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #8 of 49 Old 01-21-2012, 02:54 PM
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I personally use the SMB III sport boots on all four legs, along with bell boots on the front. I don't know how much I believe that they actually "support" the ligaments and tendons in the ankle, but I do like the thickness of them to protect against knicks and hits.

I personally have never used polo wraps, mostly because I don't know how to properly wrap them. I have plans on getting a vet to show me this year, so I can do it correctly. However, I don't know that they would provide as much protection from knicks and hits as a sport boot since a sport boot is thicker. But I would be inclined to believe that polo wraps support better than a sport boot. I have no scientific evidence to support that, but just kind of "thinking" through it from a medical standpoint.

Has anyone hear of a medical study where the compared the support of a sport boot to a polo wrap? (for some hard evidence, anyway)

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post #9 of 49 Old 01-21-2012, 03:13 PM
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On the very rare occasion that I feel a horse needs the leg protection, I use SMBs. They are easier, faster, and provide better protection against banging than polos do.

The only horse I used them consistently on has been retired now, though. He had a bad habit of knocking himself and popped several splints on each front leg over the years. So, anytime I rode him, I would put the boots on just to keep from popping any more.

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post #10 of 49 Old 01-21-2012, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by SorrelHorse View Post
Wrapping polo wraps are hard to do, but if done correctly there are studie suggesting they offer more support than any boot out there. But they are so easy to screw up, I only really use them for decorative events like a grand entry or carrying a flag. Too scared I'd mess them up.
I'm interested in seeing the studies that say this...All the studies I've ever seen say that polos aren't as good protection as boots like the SMBs. There may be pros and cons to each type of boots..But more often than not the polos lose in the "which is better competition".

Polo or Track Bandages

Pros: These bandages are inexpensive. Most can be machine-washed and dried. Correct wrapping produces a custom fit. They're made of breathable, washable materials, and most have easy-to-use hook-and-loop closures. They are available in a rainbow of colors and patterns; white, the traditional dressage color, creates an even focal point on each leg, making visual assessment of a horse's movement easier.

Cons: Polo or track bandages can be wrapped either too tightly (damaging soft tissues) or loosely (leading to dangerous slippage). Fleece material traps burrs and other debris, making polos unsuitable for riding outside the
arena. Single closure is not sufficiently secure for high-intensity workouts, such as eventing cross-country, and these are not suitable for turnout be-cause bandages can unroll, frightening the horse, catching on objects, or
both. The wrap material is highly absorbent, making polos a poor choice when water (or, simply, moisture on grass) is involved. Applying and removing bandages requires squatting next to horse's legs for a prolonged period
of time, which can be dicey around a kicker, a horse that is prone to spooking, or in busy and crowded environments, such as a horse show warm-up ring.

Support Boots

Pros: These boots offer protection from the top of the cannon to below the fetlock, which makes them popular for use in high-intensity activities (jumping, reining, barrel racing, etc.), as well as for turnout. The fetlock-sling straps found on many boots of this design can offer some support to this joint. Support boots tend to be sturdily
constructed of rugged synthetic materials. Most are machine washable, but must be line dried. These boots are generally available in a wide range of colors, and most do not have elasticized straps, making overtightening
much less likely. Copying among manufacturers and the development of other leg-boot technologies have made these boots' prices more reasonable.

Cons: According to researchers, there is insufficient data on heat retention and protection. Application is somewhat more exacting than regular leg boots, due to the sling strap, and an inexperienced user might need to practice applying the boots under the supervision of someone more experienced. Some designs tend to trap grit and sand between the boot and the leg, especially if they are not applied properly. Many of these boots' designs are such that the exterior surface is the "loop" type of material for securing the hook-and-loop straps.

Polo wraps - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Disadvantages of polo wraps

Perhaps the most notable disadvantage of polo wraps is their close proximity to the horse's tendons and ligaments; incorrect application (uneven distribution of tension, too tight, etc.) can damage the tendons. Polo wraps only stay on the leg as well as they are put on; if wrapped too loosely or the velcro is weak, you may be creating a potentially dangerous situation.
Polos are not suitable for use in potentially wet conditions (such as cross-country riding or riding through puddles), as they absorb water and become very heavy and sag. Also, polos are more time-consuming to apply than boots and need to be washed frequently to remove irritants like dried sweat or sand. Polos can also be pulled down and tighten around the tendons if a horse were to step on himself while wearing them.

Professional's Choice
Our Research



Research was conducted on our Sports Medicine Boots at Oklahoma State University under the direction of Dr. Michael Collier and Dr. Olin Balch of the Equine Sports Medicine Laboratory. The results from their tests confirmed the ability of our Sports Medicine Boots to absorb an average of 26% of energy, and up to as much as 45% of energy from hoof impact, while also preventing hyperextension of the fetlock. Standard polo wraps and adhesive bandages that were also tested under similar conditions registered at only 6-10% average energy absorption. Our boots were then examined to see if they restricted the movement of the horse’s ankle. Not only was it found that movements was not inhibited, but that horses actually shifted their weight to the feet that were wearing the boots. During a workout as horses get tired, they naturally shift their weight to different feet, but in this study they immediately shifted their weight to those legs wearing the boots, enforcing the belief that horses should wear supportive boots on all four legs to maintain normal weight distribution.

During a workout as horses get tired, they naturally shift their weight to different feet, but in this study they immediately shifted their weight to those legs wearing the boots. Professional’s Choice is the only company to have rigorously tested protective equine boots with certified veterinarians in a laboratory setting.
HorseNetwork - Ask the Vet

Is it better to use polo
wraps or sports medicine
boots on barrel horses.? - Kila

Dear Kila,

Thanks for the question. I believe that sports medicine boots provide much better support for the stresses that barrel racing puts on horses because they are a bit stiffer, and also can be put on more consistently than polo wraps. With polo wraps, the tension and location of support will vary every time they are put on. Bear in mind that it is very important that your sports medicine boots fit your horse well and are in good condition. If there are tears in the boot, or if the velcro is torn or worn to the point that it does not stick well, you are not going to be giving your horse as much support as he may need and also may expose him to risk of injuring the skin in the areas in which a boot is torn.

Dr. B"
The Horse | Boots and Bandages: To Support and Protect

"A common procedure for many equestrian disciplines is the use of polo bandages or wraps placed on all four limbs during exercise. Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, has pioneered research on locomotion and sports medicine, and she is especially devoted to the discipline of dressage. She notes, "Polo wraps do not support the leg. They give some protection against trauma, but less than some of the boots."

On support boots

"The soft tissue structures and blood circulation of the hooves themselves do a good deal to absorb concussion to the limb. Technology has produced horseshoe polymers that further add to impact absorption. The lower limb joints also contribute to concussion damping, but at a cost. One area of concern is that of hyperextension of the fetlock joints as the horse loads the limb. "Support" boots allegedly provide stiffness to the lower leg to reduce hyperextension on the fetlock joints. The degree to which this can help is dependent upon the materials used in construction of the boot: the thicker the material and the more elastic it is, the greater the restriction on hyperextension.

Clayton comments, "The amount of fetlock extension determines the amount of strain on the superficial digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligament. Injuries to these structures most often occur as repetitive strain injuries due to loading of the limb during locomotion. By reducing fetlock extension, there is less likelihood of repetitive strain injury. During rehabilitation, it's particularly useful to control fetlock extension to prevent re-injury."

"Support given by boots and wraps--Whether winding a polo wrap or sticking the Velcro of a performance boot, horse owners across disciplines use leg wear to support and protect their horses during exercise. Many research studies have determined just how much concussion those wraps and boots really absorb: polo wraps and racing or standing bandages were each shown to absorb around 1% of the force sustained by the legs of a 1,000-pound horse. Sport boots with a neoprene tab that cradles the suspensory were only marginally better, at 5-7%. Peters pointed out that while this study demonstrates that horse owners cannot look to boots or wraps for significant support, they do provide protection against bumps and bruises."

__________________________________________________ ________________________________________

These are just from a Google search. And I didn't even go into detail with all of the kinds of support boots out there, just Professional's Choice, because that's what I use and IMO, the best....I've found no studies that say a polo wrap provides better support and protection than any support boot. I'm not saying support boots provide protection in every way..They don't..NO support boot OR polo wrap can give all of the protection needed. They can just make the chances less likely for injuries..Also, if a "newbie" is trying to use polo wraps for anything and they don't know how to wrap a polo wrap correctly, they can and probably will do more damage than good.

Those are my facts.
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Last edited by DrumRunner; 01-21-2012 at 05:26 PM.
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