When your horse encounters an injury, attending to their wound as soon as possible will prevent any further risk of issues such as infection. As your horse is out enjoying the field throughout the day in their turnout rugs, it is common for them to brush against protruding branches or other horses which may cause bumps and scrapes. In more serious cases, an urgent trip to a veterinary professional will be needed but if it is a minor wound, we delve into how you can provide your horse with the care they need yourself.
1. Stem the bleeding
As soon as the accident happens, encouraging the body to form a clot will help reduce blood flow. Use a clean towel or gauze to apply pressure to the wound and keep it held here for a minute or so to help stem the bleeding. Once the bleeding has calmed down, apply a clean bandage over the wound to keep it protected from any external contaminants and give it the opportunity to heal. If the bleeding is not slowing down, seek veterinary advice and continue applying pressure until they arrive.
2. Keep the wound clean
Following the initial stages after the injury, it is important to keep a close eye on the healing process. Use a saline solution to gently clean the wound and kill off any bacteria which could lead to infection, minimising the damage. If you do not have any medical solutions handy, create a salt water solution which can be gently applied onto the area. If you notice a swelling around the wound, this is the bodies’ natural reaction to the recovery process but can cause irritation and pain for your horse rugs. Your vet may be able to administer anti-inflammatory medication if necessary to reduce the signs of swelling and minimise discomfort.
3. Let the body heal
As with human skin, the body needs time to repair the damage and will gradually form a scab over the wound. Keeping a clean bandage over the area will prevent any disruption to this process and keep the wound as clean as possible, so ensure it is kept dry, clean and regularly changed for the best results. You should still be checking on how the wound is looking, picking up on any signs of worsening or an unusual discharge which could be an indicator of infection. Your veterinary professional may recommend using an ointment with antibiotic properties to help with the healing process and kill off any infections that may be present.
4. Give it time
Depending on the nature of the wound, the full recovery process can take some time, so ensure you allow the body sufficient time to heal completely. When you feel it is suitable to remove any bandaging, gradually wean away from it instead of removing it completely as this can cause reflex swelling. Instead, remove the bandage for a couple of hours a day and replace it until the next, gradually lengthening the time without it until your horse’s body has adapted.