Leg quilts vs. no-bows for your horse’s leg wraps


Do you prefer what type of wrap to use as a standing wrap? It may not matter, or it might!  There are a few things to consider when using quilts vs. no-bows for standing wraps.


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  • Much of this boils down to personal preference. But, each type of padding and leg wrap has its advantages. Ultimately, what you use them for and how they are applied is what really matters.


  • A quick note – bandage bow injuries result from overtightening the standing wrap or sport boot or polo wrap. A no-bow leg wrap can still cause a bandage bow injury! It’s really about the application.


Quilts are better for your horse:


  • I always suggest two things for the newbie wrapper: have your veterinarian show you how to wrap properly, and practice using quilts. Quilts (or pillow wraps as they are sometimes called) are more “forgiving” and have more give, making them hard to apply too tightly.


  • Quilts come in varying thicknesses, and often varying stitch patterns, as well. Pick what you think you will like and try it out. I tend to lean toward the quilts that have a bit more stitching over them, making the quilt more evenly thick throughout, like the one in the middle shown below.


quilts and leg wraps

Pick your favorite! They also make great cat and dog beds when they get worn out.


  • Quilts are also fabulous for use in a trailer, for some reason my head says “more cush” is more protection for legs. Have no idea if this is true or not.  Any sort of leg protection is critical in the trailer, from flying hooves to sliding off ramps. 


  • Because quilts are thicker, they can also help knee and hock bandages stay put. For horses with an injury, or that need hock and knee protection, it’s often a battle of wills, expensive first-aid tape, and graduate-level engineering to make a hock wrap stay up. Put a quilted standing wrap below the hock and the wrap has a ledge to rest on.


standing wraps in red

I prefer the shiny knit stable bandages over the flannel styles. Flannel is unforgiving, stains easily, and tends to warp in the laundry over time.


Why no-bow leg wraps may work for you:


  • No-bow wraps are also great for standing bandages, they are easier to apply as you are not wrestling so much bulk. They are also at a greater risk of damage to your horse’s leg, as the wrap must not have any folds or wrinkles. These create pressure points.


  • It’s also much easier to over-tighten a no-bow wrap, which puts your horse at risk of a bandage bow. These bowed tendon injuries directly result from too much pressure from a wrap.


  • No-bow wraps also take up much less space in your tack trunk or cabinet, so if you are cramped for storage this may be the way to go.


stacks of quilts at a show barn


What about the actual standing wrap bandage?


  • The outer layer of your leg wrap can be made from a few fabric choices. I prefer the ever-so-slightly elastic version. Sure, they come in many colors, but I like the added give of the fabric. They also launder easily and won’t warp in the wash.


  • Some horse folks love the flannel type of bandage. These have a little give, but not as much as I like if you are learning.


  • If you find that you are looping your bandage a million times around your horse’s quilt, time for a shorter bandage. This also helps create an evenly pressured bandage and consistent application.


  • Avoid looping your bandage several times or more at the top of your horse’s leg. If you have circled the leg a few times and looped the rest of the bandage at the top several times, start over and perhaps shorten the bandage.  You can also make each pass around the leg closer together.


  • If your horse likes to nibble at the velcro closure, you can run some thin masking (NOT DUCT) tape over the velcro.


  • You can also use a no-chew spray or hot sauce to flavor the wraps to discourage nibbling. However – some ingredients, like capsaicin, will test positive at shows.


Should you wrap one leg or both is only one is injured?  Depends on the injury – talk to your vet!




Quilts vs. no-bows – the wrapping technique is the same.


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