Horses can find new and surprising ways of injuring themselves - and despite all we’ve seen over the years, we can still be surprised! Here are some tips for wound management and when you should be calling the vet.
- Don’t panic! It is important to keep calm while catching up your horse, in turn to keep them calm and prevent them from causing more injury to themselves.
- If your horse is able to - walk them into a clean and dry stable or a quiet area on the yard. If they are not able to walk then keep them where they are and phone the vet immediately. If the horse needs distracting while waiting for assistance to arrive a small feed or treats are a good way of helping them relax and stay still.
- It’s sensible to have someone hold your horse while you try to assess the wound. Wounds can be painful and your horse may well be anxious – the last thing you need is to get hurt by accident.
- If the wound is bleeding heavily, apply even and direct pressure to the area. This can be done using some gauze swabs, an absorbent bandage such as soffbann and some vet wrap. If there is blood coming through the bandage it is sensible to apply more vet wrap on top. By doing this you are not disturbing the blood clots beneath when the soaked material is peeled away.
- It is important to remember that wounds can be very deceptive in appearance. Some large wounds can appear horrific but can heal surprisingly well, whereas other seemingly minor ones can result in career ending infections if not dealt with quickly.
- Veterinary attention should be sought quickly if:
- The entire thickness of the skin has been broken
- If the wound is near a joint or a tendon
- Wound edges gape apart or if there is a skin flap present
- If the wound will not stop bleeding with the use of a simple compression bandage as described above
- If there is contamination of the wound
- If the horse is very lame especially if the wound appears small
- If structures such as bone, muscle or tendon can be seen
- Avoid giving painkillers before the vet arrives as they can mask the severity of the injury. Please avoid using any creams without consulting the vet first.