Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tutorial: How to Make your own Polo Wraps

Most people in the horse world know what polo wraps are. They're pretty universal throughout different disciplines, whether you ride dressage, jump, teach beginners up-down lessons, or work on perfecting your jog for western pleasure, polo wraps serve the same purpose: to support the tendons in the lower legs and offer protection against interfering or otherwise thunking their legs against something.

Of course, just because something is functional doesn't mean that it can't also be FUN! But finding fun polo wraps that you can purchase... well, it's not always easy. The basic polos that you can buy on Dover Saddlery come in black, white, hunter and navy. Higher end ones seem to only be available in black and white. Boring.

Thankfully, Polos are one of the easiest DIY projects you can find as far as horse items, since they're basically just a long strip of fleece with velcro on the end. The only tricky part is cutting the fleece dead straight to make sure that you don't create any pressure points. The best part? Fleece is available in LOTS of fun colors and patterns!

Here's the Fabric that I chose for mine:

Bright! Colorful! Fun!

Now, I personally do not like tutorials that skip steps or assume that you understood something or will figure something out for yourself. So this may seem overly detailed to some, but if that's the case, then just skim over the parts that seem simple enough. I'd also recommend that you read it all the way through before beginning to make sure you understand all of the steps and how they lead to each other.

For this project you will need:
  • 3 Yards of anti-pill fleece in a color/pattern of your choice
  • 1  yard of 2-inch wide industrial strength velcro - NOT the kind with the adhesive backing. It will gum up your sewing machine!
  • Sewing Thread
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Measuring Implement
  • Pins
  • Sewing Needle
  • Flat, clear surface to spread fabric out on (I used our spare bedroom floor)
Things that will make your life infinitely easier but are not necessarily required
  • Sewing Machine
  • Seam Measuring gauge
  • Tape measure
Alright, lets get started. But first off, I need to introduce my assistant, Puzzle.

 I don't particularly recommend sewing with a cat in the room as they're very good at getting in the way and not all that helpful. But if I shut Puzzle out of the room he stands there and paws at the door and cries the whole time, so he got to "help" me with this project. He's sitting next to my personal favorite sewing scissors. They're easy to hold, fit my hand nicely, and keep their edge relatively well. I don't remember the brand, but they're pretty easy to spot at your local fabric store.

Start out by laying the fabric out on the floor or large table or whatever cutting surface you prefer.

Matt doesn't really like having his picture taken, hehehe

You're going to cut the fleece into five inch by nine foot strips. If you bought 3 yards of fleece, this would be the length of the fabric. I'm going to explain how I went about cutting it, but if you know how you want to do that, you can skip to the picture of four strips of fabric laying on the floor.

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise so that the selvages (those are the edges that the lady at the fabric store didn't cut) are matching. 




As you can see, the selvages are kind of ugly, especially on fleece. So you need to trim them off. Do this carefully so you don't end up with a jagged edge which could create uneven pressure on your horse's leg. 






There, nice clean edges. 

Next, you're going to measure five inches (5") in from the edge. Put a pin there. 


You could also use a ruler or tape measure for this if that's what you have.

Fold the edge over 5", putting the pin in the crease of the seam.



You should now have four layers of fabric. Measure the fold all the way down the length of the fabric to make sure the strips will be perfectly straight, then pin in place. 





Cut along the edge, releasing the folded strips from the rest of the fabric.


Now cut along the fold, which will give you four separate strips. 



Separate the strips and lay them out. Admire them. 



You can see here that I didn't get the selvage entirely off of all of mine. I don't care too much as you can't see it unless you're looking really close, but if you want them to look really professional, make sure you trim all of the icky off. 


At one end of each strip, fold the corners in to form a point. Pin them down.


Repeat on each strip. Stitch these down.


Cut your velcro into six inch (6") lengths.

You may have to fend off a kitten though if he thinks that velcro is fun new toy.



There we go.

Separate the hook side from the fuzzy side. Pin the hook side to the point, lining the edge up with the bottom of the folded edge. Stitch this down securely.



Here's how I did it. 





Now pin the fuzzy side of the velcro to the OPPOSITE side of the strip size inches (6") below the bottom of the hook side. Stitch around the outside.


Repeat on each strip, clip your threads and you're done!

To roll them, put the velcro together and roll into it on the inside. This will ensure that the velcro will be on the outside when you put it on your horse's legs.




Tada!!

These fit my 15.2hh paint mare almost perfectly. I made another pair for a friend who has a very leggy 15.2hh thoroughbred mare and they were just right for her as well. If your horse is very tall and leggy, though, you might want to make them a little bit longer, or if you have a squatty little pony they'd probably need to be a bit shorter. The easiest way to do this would be is if you have a set that you know fits, measure those and you can figure out what length you'll need. Otherwise, you might have to experiment a little bit.

Okay, now the logistical side of things. Making your own polos is simple and you can get some much more fun colors and designs than are easy to find normally. Fleece, however, is rather expensive, as is velcro. 

At JoAnn's fabric, Blizzard anti-pill fleeces are normally about $8.99/yard or more. Since you need 3 yards of it, that brings you up to $26.97 just for the fabric. The cheapest polo wraps available on Dover are $10.90 and just over eight feet long. 
The great thing about fabric though? It goes on sale fairly frequently. As I'm writing this, JoAnn's fleece is on sale, normally $9.99/yard, is down to $4.99/yard, which is the price I bought my fleece at. If you're really savvy, black Friday fleece went down to $2.99/yard. Also note that out of three yards of fleece, you can get three sets of polos. So, at $2.99, you'll spend $8.97 on fleece, which puts you at $2.99 a set if you make all three. Add in the cost of velcro, and you're still saving a decent amount of money.

A few notes on polo wraps. It might make sense to try to buy only a single yard of fabric and piece them together to get a nine foot strip, but the seams will create pressure points on your horse's legs which need to be avoided. 
It is also imperative that the wraps be applied with even pressure to prevent cording or the possibility of a bowed tendon. If you are unfamiliar with wrapping, have an experienced horse person show you how to wrap them and check to make sure your pressure is correct before working your horse in them. Always make sure that your polos are secure and won't come loose while you're riding, when your horse could get a hoof caught on them. 
Polos are also not the best choice if you're looking for heavy-duty protection against impact, for example if you have a horse that wings in and has a history of serious interfering. Protective boots would be a better fit in this case. Polos are also not appropriate for trail riding if you'll be going through water, since the fleece might slip or sag when wet.

I'd love to see pictures of your polos after their finished!

13 comments:

  1. I don't have a horse ... but these are so dang cute, that I think I have to make a pair (or set, I guess would be the proper terminology!)

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  2. Well, you could probably make two shorter ones for yourself when you're working out Mel :-)

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  3. I was thinking of making homemade polo wraps as a Christmas present for everyone at my barn, your tutorial was an AMAZING amount of help. Thank you so much for taking the time to show all of the steps. They came out perfect!

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  4. Hi, I was wondering if I could use this type of fleece to make polo wraps with http://www.walmart.com/ip/Creative-Cuts-Anti-Pill-Fleece-by-the-Yard/19235879 ? Thanks!

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  5. Hi there, I work at the jo-anns in Minot and I'm pretty sure I sold your hubby some Velcro not to long ago. I kind of made a mess of it and he had to pull it all apart for me, sorry. Anyhow I remember him saying you guys were heading out soon. I am looking to bring 2 horses up from Arizona and would love some help with how I go about getting them a place on base. Also what all does the base stable have to offer? We just got sent here from Fairbanks Alaska and we couldn't take our horses there with us, 3 years away from them is a bit much and I would love to get them up here this summer. So glad I happened to come across this! Thanks for your time!

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  6. wow ive been wanting to do this for so long but did not know how to go about it now that i know i will have to make some because im known for having all kinds of funky stuff for my two medium ponies i even have polo's were the velcro has green ribbon with carrots on the outside (super cute) thanks so much for the detail it helps so much

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  7. I made these but my velcro didn't end up lining up when they were wrapped, did you or anyone else have any issues with that?

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    1. Did you put the velcro six inches on the opposite side below the first sewn tip? If you did maybe you were off by an inch or two. Also, maybe you cut the Velcro too short. I made these and made the Velcro 5 inches long, and six inches below the first sewn piece. Just a suggestion! I'm selling Polos soon and donating some money to horse charities. :)

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  8. hi i just have a few questions how many polos can you make out of 3 yards of fleece and also where can i find non adhesive velcro?

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    1. I think fleece is usually 45" wide fabric, so you could make a potential total of 9 individual wraps, but I would figure more on 8 wraps (2 full sets of 4) to leave yourself some room for mistakes, trimming selvages, etc. Do you have a JoAnn Fabric near you? They should have non-adhesive velcro I would think.

      I'm hoping to hit the store today and find some fleece on sale to make myself a set :)

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  9. Thanks so much for a fabulous tutorial. .my twin daughters b have been busy for several weeks now making polo wraps and selling g them as a fundraiser for a local horse rescue! Follow them on Facebook at polishedponiesbyabigailandaudrey.

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