Some very small wounds and grazes may be attended to without specific veterinary intervention but remember that apparently innocuous wounds can be much more serious than they look. If there is any doubt as to the severity of a wound or appropriate treatment you should consult your vet without delay.
As a general guide, wounds that may require specific veterinary examination include:
- Heavily bleeding or large wounds
- Wounds near to a joint or tendon
- If the horse is not vaccinated against tetanus
- If the horse is lame or unwell
- Kicks (see Kicks)
What to do in an emergency:
Wounds on a limb:
- Apply a pressure bandage using one or two layers of gamgee under a tight bandage.
- If the bleeding does not stop further layers should be applied without removing the lower layer. Pressure bandages should not be left in place for more than 20 minutes without taking further advice from your vet.
Wounds that cannot be bandaged (e.g. those on the body or head):
- Apply and maintain pressure manually using any available clean material (e.g. nearby dressings or even at item of clothing) until the vet arrives.
- Do not move the horse unnecessarily if it is severely lame or bleeding heavily.
- Clean the wound.
- Heavily contaminated wounds will benefit from washing with clean, tepid water as soon as possible, but only if this can be done without causing further damage or re-starting heavy bleeding.
Unvaccinated horses will need to be seen in all cases. In some cases it may be recommended that even vaccinated horses receive an early booster, therefore you should always contact your vet for specific advice.
See also kicks and severe lameness.