Wounds in horses are extremely common and a lot of the time they are only minor. But there are many synovial structures (joints and tendon sheaths) in the lower limb with very little protection from overlying tissues, so even tiny wounds in this area can be extremely serious. If a wound introduces bacteria into a synovial structure, these bacteria can colonise very quickly causing inflammation and increased pressure within the joint which rapidly becomes very painful. Severe lameness can be suggestive of tendon sheath or joint involvement but this isn’t always the case. If the wound is very recent or the joint is open and able to drain (and therefore relieve the pressure) the lameness may be mild. Without prompt and aggressive treatment, infection within joints and tendon sheaths can be fatal.

Here are some guidelines for when to call your vet when your horse has a leg wound:
– Wounds through the full thickness of skin, puncture wounds or those with exposed bone or tendon
– Wounds close to a joint or tendon – be aware that the normal pouches of some joints extend up and down the leg away from the joint
– Excessive bleeding or swelling around the wound
– Clear or pale yellow discharge, or pus from the wound
– The horse is lame or has a temperature

As a general rule, always err on the side of caution and give us a ring if you’re worried – we’d rather have a chat about something that seems minor than miss a potentially life-threatening injury. And most importantly, stay calm and keep yourself safe – injured horses can panic and behave out of character so it’s a good idea to get an extra pair of hands to help you assess the situation safely.

And don’t forget to keep a First Aid Box stocked and handy

Horse first-aid box

All good tack rooms should have some sort of a first-aid or bandage box. The following is our recommendation for what you should have inside.

  • Disposable rubber gloves
  • Sterile Gauze swabs
  • Various sizes of Melonin®
  • Cotton Wool rolls
  • Gamgee®
  • Vetrap®
  • Elastoplast®
  • Scissors
  • Digital thermometer

As you can see, this is quite a simple list but it will allow you to look after most types of wound. All of the components of this first aid box can be purchased from us, your local pharmacy or tack shop.

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