Common Horse Wounds

At some point in its life, because of its size and speed, your horse is going to be injured. There are many different types of wounds, some of which occur in the field or stable and some of which are caused by ill-fitting tack or bad riding.
Some wounds you can treat, while others need to be treated by a veterinarian. You should call the vet if:
• The blood is pumping out in spurts (indicating a cut artery);
• The wound is very deep or lacerated;
• Any underlying parts such as tendons or bones can be seen;
• The wound is on or near a joint, particularly if there is a clear, amber-coloured discharge (joint or tendon oil);
• The anti-tetanus injections are not up to date.
Small cuts and scratches should be noticed during your daily check of your horse or while grooming. Do not let them go untreated, as they may become infected. Clean the wound by trickling a hosepipe from a few centimetres above the wound or wash it with cold salt water (a teaspoonful to 500 ml water). Treat with anti-biotic powder and leave it uncovered unless it is likely to become dirty again. Do not wash again after the first time, but treat with powder until it has healed.
Lacerations are deep cuts that extend into the tissue below the skin, which is often torn and ragged. These wounds usually need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent infection.
Where the cut is deep you need to stop the bleeding, by applying direct pressure. Use a clean and preferably sterile bandage or clean towel to apply pressure to the wound area or even a clean handkerchief and keep up the pressure for at least five minutes before checking. Try to keep the horse still, to prevent further bleeding. Don’t wash the wound as you may restart bleeding and make it difficult to stitch the wound. Contact the vet as soon as possible if the wound needs stitching. Do not apply a tourniquet, as these should only be applied by a veterinarian.
Contusions or bruised wounds are most often caused by the horse being kicked by another horse. These wounds can be misleading as there may be internal bleeding. Immobilise the horse and apply cold compresses or hose with cold water. If the swelling has not decreased noticeably call the vet.
A puncture wound can be caused by a thorn, nail or wire and while the wound on the surface might appear small, it may be deep. These wounds should always be treated seriously. If the bleeding has already stopped, clean the wound by flushing it out with a saline solution. However, deep puncture wounds need to be irrigated by your vet to remove bacteria in the wound. The vet will also need to remove the foreign object that caused the puncture if it is still lodged in the wound.

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