Minor Horse Wounds: How Do You Treat Them?

December 03, 2020

Minor Horse Wounds: How Do You Treat Them?

Minor injuries are uncomfortably common in every horses' life. No matter how strong and powerful your horse may be, the reality is that we can sometimes forget how easily they can get hurt.

From small scrapes on trees, bushes, and rocks, to minor altercations with other horses, these little accidents seem simply that — small. However, they can be causing your horse more pain than you'd think. 

It's crucial to treat horse wounds the same, whether they be small scrapes or more serious ailments, because if a minor injury goes untreated, then there's no reason why it can't develop into something more severe in the future. 

With a minor horse wound having the potential to turn into a disease or infection, all owners must know how to treat small and common injuries. 

So, how do you treat horse wounds, you ask? Read on to learn more about how to manage them and keep your beloved animal safe and healthy.

Why You Need to Know Equine Wound Treatment

Not every scrape, graze, or cut requires medical attention. It's also why horse owners need to know the tips and tricks of treating horse wounds.

Professional medical treatment can be costly. Plus, it may sometimes be unavailable if you are in the middle of the countryside.

For a minor horse wound, you don't need to wait to get your companion the care and treatment it needs. If you know how to treat horse wounds, you can make sure the animal is comfortable — and prevent a minor injury from worsening. 

It's vital that you own a basic horse first aid kit, and you take it with you at all times. Most small injuries don't require a medical professional, and if you know what you're doing, you could prevent the problem from escalating. 

How to Assess the Wounds

If you notice your horse has a scrape or cut, you'll need to assess the wounds first. Here are some top tips:

Don't Panic

If you notice blood trickling down a leg or a cut or graze scarring your pet's perfect coat, take the time to think about how you would treat a minor wound on your own arm or leg first before panicking. 

Maintaining a calm and relaxed state will help you assess the situation with more clarity. Also, it will help you decide if you need to dress the wound yourself or if you need to seek help from a veterinarian. 

Assess Its Behavior

After a minor accident, you may notice that your horse is continuing to eat, move, and act normal. The chances are there is nothing to worry about, and they will make a natural recovery. 

Similarly, if its temperature, pulse, and respiration are all normal, then there is nothing to worry about, either. 

Common sense is also vitally important too. If you notice your horse bleeding, showing signs of pain, or acting out of sorts, it's always a good idea to have your vet's number on speed dial. 

Make a Judgement Call

If you feel the wound is more severe and requires professional medical attention, call the vet. In the meantime, make a conscious effort to stable or tie your horse and keep it calm until your vet arrives. 

Note that you should also put your safety first. If your horse seems distressed and is acting in a way that could potentially harm you, back off gently until a professional medical team has arrived.

Different Types of Minor Horse Wounds

When it comes to treating horse wounds, you must be aware of the different types of injuries to know how best to treat them. Here are a few of the most common injuries they can experience:

Scrapes

Probably the most common injury your animal will face in its lifetime, scrapes can occur for many reasons. In most cases, they are nothing to worry about and will heal in time. 

Visually, they may appear to have sheared off the hair and a small part of the skin. You might see a red, inflamed bald area because the scrape has gone a little deeper. 

Scrapes typically will heal on their own, and rarely will they leave scars. Also, because it affects only the top layer of skin, scratches are unlikely to become infected or cause any longer-lasting damage. 

Most of these minor horse wounds will clear up with a simple cleaning. Use clean water to wash the affected area. Flushing dirt or grit will prevent any potential infections.

Usually, antibiotic ointments are not necessary for these cases. They can sometimes trap dirt at the site, so you don't want to use them unless needed.

If you notice your horse has redness or swelling surrounding the scrape area after treatment, let the area heal before considering riding again.

Minor Cuts

Cuts can be more serious than scrapes, and the severity of them depends on the location, contamination, and deepness. 

If the cut presents as shallow and superficial, you can treat it by flushing out dirt and grit and applying an ointment. (It's always a good idea to have some form of cream or salve in your horse first aid kit!)

If the cut is deeper, you may need to dress the wound to keep the tissue clean. Horses usually only need some form of dressing for around a week after their injury. However, if the cut is in a place where it is difficult to bandage, gauze dressings are usually advisable. 

It's also essential that you check the cuts twice daily to monitor their healing process and check for any signs of swelling or discharge — these signs can indicate an infection. 

Again, you must consider your safety first. If your horse doesn't let you touch the affected area, call your vet. They can administer a sedative to keep the animal calm while treatments and assessments take place. 

Note that if the cut is relatively deep, they could also benefit from a tetanus booster.

Deeper Cuts

If an accident has caused a deep laceration, then veterinary treatment is almost always necessary. 

Deep cuts are usually the result of kicks from other horses, sharp objects, branches, or barbed-wire fences. 

These cuts will usually present with excessive bleeding or bleeding that won't stop. You may notice your horse in visible pain. 

Deep cuts are usually prevalent around the joints. However, if you notice any other areas that involve a break to the skin, calling your vet is probably the best thing to do. 

Deep cuts also have the potential to develop complications, so it's always a good idea to call your veterinarian to prevent these risks.

Bruising

Bruising or swelling under the skin usually results from bumping into a solid object. It could be anything from a fence, a stall door, or even a nasty kick from another horse.

In most cases, just like us humans, bruises heal on their own. However, if you want to aid the recovery and ease the pain, you can hose the affected area with cold water multiple times a day.

If you notice bruising on the animal's feet, it's a different issue. It may need its hooves changing or trimming. 

Punctures 

These horse wounds can look and seem harmless, but sometimes they can prove to be more sinister. 

Because of their depth, they have the potential for life-threatening infections, meaning you want to address them. 

Puncture wounds can appear anywhere on the body, even on the sole of the hoof, and they can be tough to clean. 

Because of this, harmful bacteria can fester deep within the tissue and lead to infections. 

Veterinarians say that if you notice your horse has a puncture wound, you should always call them. These types of horse wounds need to heal from the inside out, so proper treatment is necessary. That way, the outside doesn't begin to heal first and trap bacteria inside it. 

Just like the cuts, it's always beneficial to give your horse a tetanus booster after these types of injuries. 

Prevention

There are steps you can take to prevent any of these injuries from happening. While you can't guarantee that your horse will never have an injury in its life, you can minimize the risk of any accidents and infection with the following:

  • Check pastures and fences for anything that may cause an injury
  • Separate your horse from other horses if they are fighting and could end up hurting each other,
  • Always carry a horse first aid kit with you

The Takeaway

You now know what to do if your animal has an accident and how to treat horse wounds! These beautiful animals are strong, but they can get hurt, too. With these tips for treating a minor horse wound, you should be ready to care for your companion as it deserves.

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