This factsheet provides you with information on what to do and what to expect when you first see your horse has a wound.
Wounds can be:
Once you have seen that your horse is injured, the first thing to do is to move it to a safe place to prevent further injury.
Calm the horse down and get assistance to hold the horse while you examine the wound. Take great care as even the most placid of horses may behave unpredictably when in pain, which may result in you being injured.
Try and evaluate the wound and call us if you need any advice. You should definitely contact us if you feel there is:
You should also contact the surgery if your horse has not been vaccinated against tetanus. Horses are one of the most susceptible domestic species to tetanus, which can often be fatal.
Until the vet arrives, practical things to do include:
The vet will perform a thorough examination of the wound. If the horse is very stressed, we may sedate them in order for us to fully examine the wound. Not only are we looking at the visible wound, but we are assessing whether any deeper structures such as tendon sheaths or joints have been penetrated. If these are left untreated, a life threatening infection may occur. Any wounds in the region of the joints or tendons should be check out by a vet, especially if the horse is lame on that leg.
We will then decide how to manage the wound in one of 3 ways:
We will then provide tetanus cover (if your horse is not vaccinated) and antibiotics if appropriate.
Wherever possible, it is best to dress wounds. The wound is kept moist, allowing skin cells the chance to start the healing process, whereas in an open wound these cells may often dry out and die.
Horses are very prone to proud flesh developing on wounds to the lower limbs. There is very little muscle in these regions, just tendons and bones. Proud flesh is when the healing tissue (granulation tissue) is over-produced by the body and grows as a pink lump which protrudes form the wound. There are now special dressings with a charcoal base that inhibit the formation of proud flesh whilst allowing the wound to heal.
First Aid Kit
Below are suggestions of what you may need in a first aid kit: