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Spider Wrap

Karen Zelinsky <> said:

> ... a tiny tidbit of leg wrap trivia
> based upon a recent blab with one of my clients (i massage his horses).
> This trainer works at Mountaineer racetrack - TB racing in WVA
> ... Anyhoooo, he
> was doing a strange leg-wrap whilst we were doing our blab.  "What in the
> world is that wrap you are using?" I ask.  'It's a spider wrap." he
> answers.  Hmmm.  A long, rectangular  piece of cotton gauze material with
> long, dangling fringe on both sides of it.  Hmmm.  If I remember
> correctly, he placed it OVER the other leg wrap layers - simply one long,
> rectangular piece of material simply covering the cannon bone, and I
> believe, down to the pasturn with the edges (i.e. long-fringed edges)
> meeting in the front of the leg.  Then the fringe is BRAIDED together
> down the front of the leg.  The reason for this contraption? To gently
> hold the underwrap together, but letting the leg breathe, or letting the
> leg move easily - not be too controlled by the wrap. (You know, it
> probably wasn't a regular wrap underneath, but more like a poultice.)  He
> said it's an oldie that not many people do these days.  Hmmmm.  Working
> at a horse show more recently, a trainer had heard of this spider wrap
> deal.  What do ya'll know about this?  Only the oldies know about spider
> wrap??  Any youngies?????  Waiting to hear!

I'm middle-aged (44), so I don't know if I qualify.

As I've mentioned on occasion, I worked as a groom at Hollywood
Park in the spring/summer of 1976.  One of the horses I rubbed
was a 2 year old filly with, as the trainer said, "A pair of
knees on her."  I had also never seen a spider bandage before,
but that's what I had to learn how to tie to do her legs every

Your description matches what I remember fairly closely.  Her
spiders were old sheets, not gauze.  Yes, they went over her
regular knee cotton.  All the horses that wore them wore them
on their knees because the whole point of a spider is that
it "gives" and thus the horse could wear it comfortably
and still flex their knees.  They were a rectangle, about
15" high by about 26" wide.  You just cut the strips out of
the sides of the rectangle, like so:


It ends up looking somewhat like a spider:  solid "body"
with 8 or more "legs" on each side.

The main difference between your description and what I
remember is that we most definitely did *not* braid the
streamers.  They were just twisted together.  The whole
thing really worked like a woman's "french braid" hairstyle,
or really like the way braiding a hunter's tail works,
except that the main strand is twisted, not braided.
This twist is what makes the bandage "give" and allows
you to adjust the compression depending on how tight
you twist it.

I don't remember which end is "up," only that it makes
a difference.  But you put the cotton on the leg.  You
drape the bandage around it, with the loose ends toward
you. (I remember the twist going down the side of the knee,
not the front, but I could be wrong.)  You double over the
top, bring the top few strands together, and begin to twist
them together. As you go down the knee, you keep adding
new strands and twisting them into the main strand.  I
forget what you do when you get to the end--it involves
threading it back up through the connected strands, and
finally tying a simple bow to finish it off.

It ends up looking like you've braided a hunter's tail
with a piece of sheet instead of the hunter's own hair.

They stay put remarkably well.

Never seen it before.

Never seen it since.

It's the sort of thing that, if I were doing it today,
I'd be using a "spider" shape cut out of neoprene with
velcro on the "legs."  That would provide the same kind
of stay-put, breathable, but flexible quality.

Linda B. Merims
Massachusetts, USA

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