Cost Effective Ways to Manage Horse Wounds

An inevitable part of owning a horse is dealing with wounds and injuries. As much as well all hate to think about it, they happen and when they do, you will need to know what to do to care for your equine friend. The good news is much of the basic wound care can be done quite easily, and in a very cost effective manner.

How Horses Become Wounded

Horses by nature are active creatures that enjoy running, jumping, and frolicking about. Because of this nature, they tend to become injured from objects they encounter during their daily activities. Nails, fencing, barbed wire, metal, and glass are all objects that can be readily found around the stables and barnyard. Horses can run into these things, step on them, or become stuck. This can result in a wide variety of injuries such as scrapes, cuts, puncture wounds, and even sores. Minor injuries can be easily treated by you; however more serious injuries should always be checked by a veterinarian to ensure infection does not set in. Even in the case of a more serious injury, you should still know how to properly administer first aid until help arrives.

What You Will Need For Basic First Aid

Every horseperson should have a proper first aid kit handy to care for their equine friend. In fact, you should have multiple kits for different purposes; one for the barn, one to pack to take with you on rides, and one in your trailer for travel. This kit can be easily assembled by gathering items you have around your home, or items you can pick up for a reasonable cost at any drug, wholesale, or feed store.

Your equine first aid kit should consist of the following:

  • A roll of gauze and gauze squares for dressing wounds;
  • Adhesive tape, or duct tape for keeping wound dressings in place;
  • Hand towels or cut up bath towels for cleaning wounds or for stopping bleeding;
  • Scissors;
  • Q-tips;
  • A spray bottle or two;
  • Tweezers;
  • Leg wraps;
  • Betadine or disinfectant;
  • Antibiotic ointments;
  • Petroleum jelly;
  • A large syringe for flushing out wounds;
  • Plenty of sterile saline solution.

How To Care For Wounds

The first step to caring for horse wounds of any kind is to always clean the area thoroughly. Using the sterile saline solution from your kit, spray the entire affected area to flush the wound in order to wash out as much dirt, debris, and bacteria as possible. Make sure you use plenty of solution and spray in a way that the excess will pour downward to the ground taking all unwanted bacteria with it. From this point, the care will vary a bit depending on the nature of the wound.

For abrasions: Abrasions can occur in many ways, from falling and sliding, to simply bumping into an object and skinning an area. Make sure you thoroughly inspect the area to make sure there are no more serious injuries such as a broken bone, a puncture, or other damage. Assuming there is nothing more seriously wrong, clean the area with the saline as directed above, and then disinfect the wound with a betadine solution to kill any bacteria. Make sure you clean the area gently, and never scrub or put too much pressure on the wound. The affected area will be sore for several days, so use care when handling your horse. It could take a few weeks for the wound to completely disappear depending on the degree of the injury. If the area starts to swell, you can hose it off with cold water from a garden hose to help reduce the swelling and provide a bit of comfort. A vitamin E ointment can be applied to help with healing and to protect it from dirt and other debris. If for any reason the wound does not seem to be healing, seems to be getting worse, or the horse in a great deal of pain, you will need to contact a veterinarian.

For puncture wounds: Puncture wounds can vary a great deal in seriousness depending on where they are located on the body, how large they are, and how deep they are. If the puncture has occurred anywhere on the chest or abdomen, seek professional help immediately; injuries in this area can harm internal organs. If the puncture is on the legs, hip, or hindquarter area, begin by checking to make sure there is nothing still inside the wound, measure the depth by using a Q-tip, clean the wound out with saline, and bandage properly. If the puncture is bleeding, but does not appear to be too deep or have anything in the wound, attempt to stop the bleeding by using gauze or a clean towel. Once the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound with saline, check the depth, and bandage. If the puncture has left the skin around the wound jagged or torn, properly clean and then wrap the area with bandages that have been dampened with sterile saline.

For lacerations: In many cases, lacerations need to be examined by a veterinarian and will need a course of antibiotics to help prevent infection. However, you can treat most lacerations yourself until you can seek professional help. Begin by thoroughly examining the leg to make sure a more serious injury has not occurred to the tendons or ligaments. If your horse has suddenly gone lame, check it over to look for even the smallest lacerations. Even a very superficial cut can cause your horse to become temporarily lame. Finding and treating these cuts early can drastically reduce permanent problems and damage. After examining the horse, place a leg wrap on the horse’s other legs to help it support the extra amount of weight that is shifted from the injured leg. Next, clean the cut with sterile saline and try to judge whether or not the cut is deep enough to warrant stitches. If it does not appear too deep, wrap it thoroughly with gauze and a bandage.

Remember, your horse may be in pain, and may not realize that you are trying to help when it is injured. Always approach with caution and use extra care to help calm and soothe your horse. If you do not feel comfortable treating the injury yourself, seek help immediately. The last thing you will want is for you to become injured as well.

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