ou probably noticed athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics wearing tape on different parts of their bodies when they competed for gold. But did you know that your horse can benefit from the same tape these athletes use? While humans have been using different taping methods for several decades, it’s only now starting to become a popular alternative therapy for your equine partner. There are several strategies that can be applied to taping your horse, and each has differ- ent results. You can tape your horse to help with muscle soreness and muscle relaxation, and when applied properly it can even reduce swelling in an injury. Always consult your veteri- narian fi rst when an injury is involved, and then discuss with your practitioner what taping can achieve. While taping is considered a safe alternative therapy, and you can purchase tape on your own, hire a certified practitioner to apply it to your horse to ensure that he’s taped properly for the best results. If you’re planning on taking your horse to a show, take time to learn and understand the rules regarding taping your horse if he’s competing—or even riding around—at an event. For example, at FEI events your horse can’t compete or wear tape while riding. However, you can tape your horse when he’s unsaddled and in the stable area. To learn more about kinesiology tape, we asked experts from three tape manufacturers to explain what it is, and to share their advice on how to be successful when using it.
chiropractor and founder/developer of Equi-Tape ( equi-tape.com).
Taping philosophy: Taping doesn’t enhance your horse’s abilities; it allows your horse to be more comfortable at the level of riding he’s designed to perform, and it’ll help improve his physical stamina. “Taping lifts the skin and helps feed the area increasing circulation and improving oxygen flow, while helping remove edema and lymph,” Ruder explains.
“Taping works, depending on how you apply it,” Gordon shares. “If you want to decrease swelling, you’ll apply it differently than if you want to support a joint or muscle. The tape also allows full range of motion because of its stretch,” she says.
How it works: “It’s all about application; coat length doesn’t really matter. Before you apply any tape, clean the area and make sure the hair lies flat,” Ruder shares. “Depending on what part of your horse you’re taping, you can leave tape on for several days, but length of time doesn’t necessarily mean better results,” he says. “The tape won’t have the same amount of recoil in a day or two that it did when you first applied it, so it isn’t as effective as times goes on.”
What to avoid: “The tape won’t adhere well when there’s dust, debris, and oil on the hair,” he shares. “Make sure you clean the area you’re applying tape to, and use a dish soap to clean oily spots and break up the grease before you tape anything.” Pay careful attention to keeping the taped area clean. “If debris or foreign matter gets under the tape, it can be irritating and can possibly cause sores.” To avoid this, Ruder recommends applying a polo wrap or support wrap over the tape to protect the application when possible.
“Don’t tape over open wounds, because you don’t want the adhesive on broken skin, potentially causing irritation to your horse,” Gordon adds. “However, you can put gauze over the wound before you tape it. Avoid taping over an active infection, like cellulitis, because you don’t want to increase