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
- Sewing Needle
- Flat, clear surface to spread fabric out on (I used our spare bedroom floor)
- Sewing Machine
- Seam Measuring gauge
- Tape measure
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.
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.
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!