Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Lacerations the most common horse injuries

  • Print

The most common emergency amongst horses is a laceration (severe cut). Given the many miles of barbed wire fence used in Western Canada to contain our animals, it is only a matter of time before a horse injures itself on one or more of these sharp objects.


Most horses will sustain a laceration on a leg and most leg wounds can be easily managed if the appropriate first aid steps are taken.


First, check for any major blood loss — as a senior surgeon once told me, ‘bleeding you see, hemorrhage you hear’. If the blood is flowing or squirting so quickly you can almost hear it or it looks to be pooling into a mound on the ground, call your vet immediately.


In the meantime, apply steady and constant pressure over the wound — this will help control the rate of blood loss until your vet can arrive. Try to keep the horse calm and quiet to keep the heart rate controlled.


A stack bandage (heavy layer of bandaging) can be applied tightly over the wound. Often the blood will soak through the bandage, so apply another and continue applying pressure. Most bleeding (even arterial) will cease with bandaging and pressure.


Second, keep the wound clean. There is a term in wound medicine called the golden period. This is the time it takes for an open wound to become too contaminated with bacteria to be sutured closed. This time period is about six to eight hours after the initial cut occurs.


Horses tend to have wounds close to the ground, which complicates the problem, as there is generally an abundance of fecal material nearby.


Having a wound attended to within the golden period will lead to better outcomes for your horse.


In the meantime, cold hosing the wound will help to decrease contamination. Typically 15 minutes will suffice. Overuse of running water can cause waterlogging of the tissue (tissue will turn gray), which should be avoided. Once the wound is clean, apply a clean bandage until the vet can arrive.


Last, don’t put anything on the wound that you wouldn’t put in your eye. Too often wounds are managed with topical ointments, solutions and sprays which are highly toxic to healing cells. Don’t apply anything without your vet’s approval.


Some general advice about wounds: usually lacerations on the front of the leg are better than the back of the leg (due to location of the flexor tendons); lacerations over joints are serious; and lacerations higher on the leg take less time to heal.

Chris Bell is an equine veterinarian and surgical specialist who operates Elders Equine Veterinary Service, with clinics in Cartier and Winnipeg. See www.eldersequineclinic.com

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

If the NHL expands into Las Vegas, will you go to see the Jets there?

View Results