My neighbor's horse tangled with a fence and received a serious cut on his flank. It wasn't the first time the horse had hurt himself. I wouldn't know what to do if my horse was hurt and needed first aid. Do you have any advice?
Sooner or later, anyone who owns horses will have one with a cut or laceration. Horses' instinctive flight or fright response and their natural curiosity tend to make them accident prone. When your horse has a cut, stay calm and proceed carefully so you do not get injured yourself. Catch and calm the horse to prevent further injury and move to clean surroundings if possible. Have someone hold the horse while you examine and evaluate the wound. Call your veterinarian if you feel that your horse needs emergency care. Also call your veterinarian if there is excessive bleeding, a cut over a joint, a puncture wound, a severe cut at or below the knee or hock, or if the wound is severely contaminated.
Excessive bleeding usually can be controlled by applying firm, even pressure to the wound with a sterile absorbent compress. Do not use cotton. Antibacterial soap and water, hydrogen peroxide or saline solution usually are sufficient for cleaning most superficial wounds, but they may be detrimental if the wound is severe. Do not use tincture of iodine or alcohol in the wound since they could delay healing. If the wound needs to be sutured, do not apply any medication. Severe wounds or those imbedded with foreign material should be cleaned by the veterinarian. Lacerations should be sutured within a few hours. Most veterinarians prefer to suture a clean wound free of contamination or medications.
All horses sustaining cuts or puncture wounds will require a tetanus booster. Your veterinarian also may prescribe antibiotics. Stocking an equine first aid kit will allow you to treat minor injuries or manage a severe injury until the veterinarian arrives. An equine first aid kit should include:
- Bandage scissors
- Elastic wrap
- Gauze pads or wraps, cotton bandages, leg wraps
- Antibacterial soap and saline solution
- Antibacterial wound dressing
- Rectal thermometer, flashlight, latex gloves
- Hoof pick, twitch, wire cutters, folding knife and pliers