Health

Taking care of your horse can feel like a daunting task. But with the right approach and tools you can ensure your horse is in the best health possible.

In this article we will cover everything you need to know to care for and treat horse wounds and properly give your horse injections and shots.

Wound Treatment

As a horse owner, you must be prepared for the inevitability of your horse being injured. No matter how much care we put into preventing (and you should) injuries, they can and will happen.

Horses can be injured on fencing, stalls, trailers, and even trees and other natural objects. And when your horse is cut or wounded you must be prepared to properly treat the injury to prevent infection and long term damage. 

Get your horse their shots

Preventing tetanus is very important and quite easy. Your horse should receive vaccinations two times a year, this is imperative to preventing a slash or cut from developing into a potentially fatal infection.

Learn more about Joint Health in Horses in our article 

Wound Cleaning

First thing upon discovering your horse has suffered a cut or any open wound is to thoroughly wash it with sterile water. Because of this you should always keep fully stocked with saline solution in your barn first aid kit. 

If you find yourself without sterile saline solution, use water to thoroughly flush out the wound.

By thoroughly washing out the wound you will be able to remove the majority of the infection causing bacteria present in the horse's wound. 

Punctures

Puncture wounds can be quite serious and must be cared for properly. Depending on the depth and severity, you may need to call your vet asap. 

Punctures in the chest, stomach, and legs should be handled with great care as they have the potential to permanently injure your horse.

Once you have assessed the severity of the puncture and called the vet (if necessary) you will want to clean out the wound thoroughly while ensuring there is no foreign objects in the wound.

Often times, punctures will be actively bleeding and you will want to apply gauze to the wound once washed out to stop the bleeding.

It is important not to remove any torn flesh, leave this to the vet. But if the object that caused the puncture is still in the wound, you will not want to remove it. In this case, you will want to leave this to the vet as removing the object incorrectly can cause more damage.

Once you have washed the wound and applied sterile gauze you want to keep your horse calm so as not to make the injury worse. 

Once your vet arrives, if the wound is deep, they may require an x-ray to fully asses the severity of the injury.

Abrasions

Usually occurring after a fall or running into something, abrasions happen frequently. Often found on the legs, shoulders, or on the hip, abrasions are fairly simple to care for.

Once you have confirmed there are no broken bones or puncture wounds, you will want to flush the abrasion thoroughly with clean water.

While washing the abrasion, you will want to look for dirt, mud, or objects embedded in the skin. If you find anything in the wound you will want to carefully remove them. 

Once you have completely flushed the wound, apply a disinfectant to kill any bacteria that may be present.

When applying the disinfectant, do not rub, and instead gently apply it to the wound. 

Due to the injury, your horse may have bruised his muscles and will need time to fully heal. Be careful not to work your horse hard until he has the chance to fully recover.

If bruising or swelling has occurred, you will want to run cool water over the injured area once a day along with applying an salve containing vitamin E. 

Laceration

Due to the potential for infection, many lacerations will require veterinarian attention. To treat or prevent the injury from becoming infected, your vet may prescribe antibiotics. 

If your vet puts your horse on antibiotics, be sure to administer them as directed. Just as with humans, antibiotic use should be used only when necessary and to completion.

Lacerations to the horses leg must be treated with great care due to the potential for tendon or ligament damage. Therefore you will want to closely monitor your horse for lameness.

If cared for promptly, you can greatly lessen the chance that permanent damage and permanent unsoundness from setting in.

If the laceration has caused your horse to be lame, using leg wraps can help stabilize your horse and relieve some of the pain.

If the laceration is severe enough, your vet will stitch the cut and potentially put a tendon sheath on your horse.

If your vet does prescribe antibiotics it is very important that you follow his orders as infection can lead to permanent lameness.

If your horse is in severe pain your vet may also provide pain medication. Again, use the pain medication exactly as advised by your veterinarian. 

You will want to refrain from exercising your horse until he is pain free and the wound is fully healed. If you exercise your horse too soon, you can cause both the wound to reopen and further tendon damage.

Have a First aid kit for your horse

​Always keep a fully stocked first aid kit at your barn. If you travel, you will want a second kit kept in your trailer.

  • Clean towels for stopping bleeding
  • Large rolls of gauze and individual gauze pads
  • Strong tape for holding bandages, duct tape and surgical tape work very well
  • Wrap bandages for legs
  • Soaking Boots for Horses
  • Leg wraps and splint boots
  • Spray bottles for water and disinfectant 
  • Vaseline
  • Ointments and salves
  • Syringes of various sizes for flushing out wounds and cuts
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Betadine or your preferred disinfectants
  • Tweezers and scissors
  • Cotton swabs and Q-tips