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Equine wound





Veterinary surgeon

Poppy Mitchell

XLEquine practice

Wensum Valley

Veterinary Surgeons

Poppy Mitchell VetMB BA CertAVP MRCVS,

Wensum Valley Veterinary Surgeons

If you find your horse with a wound the

most important thing to do is to keep calm

so that you can restrain and calm your

horse. If the wound is actively bleeding use

a thick absorbent dressing pad to apply

direct pressure; cohesive bandage can be

useful in helping to hold the pad in place.

Having a well-stocked first aid kit easily

accessible makes moments such as this

much easier.

Wounds that should be immediately

examined by a vet include those close to

vital structures (joints

(Figure 1)

, tendons,

the eyes, chest or abdomen), wounds that

are bleeding profusely, cover a large area

or are through the full thickness of the skin.

If you are ever in doubt do not hesitate to

call your vet for advice; photographs sent

via email or mobile phone can be very

helpful at this stage.

NEVER put yourself at risk by trying to

examine or clean a wound on a stressed

or painful horse, leave this job to the vet

who will administer sedative prior to

examining and treating the wound.

First aid

The greater the size and complexity of the

wound, the longer it will take to heal.

Whilst it is impossible to increase the

overall speed of wound healing, good

wound management makes sure that it is

not slowed down for any reason.

How quickly can wounds heal?

Wound healing can be affected by multiple

different factors associated with the wound

and the individual horse or pony:

Inflammation and swelling

(Figure 2)

Infection: Infected tissues and the

presence of pus or necrotic (dead) tissue.

Excessive granulation tissue: Granulation

tissue forms to fill in the wound and

provide a surface for the skin cells to

migrate over but it needs to be

controlled when there is too much.

Drying of the wound

Multiple trauma sites

Age of the horse: Older horses are

slower at healing than younger horses

Disease status of the horse: Horses

already suffering from other diseases

e.g. Cushing’s disease have delayed

wound healing

What can slow wound healing?

Horses, due to their nature, are particularly prone to suffering traumatic

injuries. The majority of these are superficial and heal with basic care

but others require veterinary treatment to promote healing. Large and

complex wounds can take weeks or months to heal and therefore anything

that delays the wound healing process should be avoided. Wounds of the

lower limbs can be particularly awkward to manage due to poor circulation,

a lack of soft tissue between the skin and bone, movement due to proximity

to joints and contamination from the environment.