How to Apply Basic Wound Care for Your Horse

No matter if blood doesn’t faze you, or you faint at the sight of it, knowing basic wound care for your horse will help start the healing process.

If you own a horse it’s almost inevitable that they’ll hurt themselves at some point. It’s part of the package that comes with horse ownership. But, with a little preparation and know-how you can administer some basic wound care to aid the healing process or stabilise the wound while you wait for the vet.

If you notice a wound on your horse, here’s some basic care you can provide:

If it’s bleeding, apply pressure

If you come across a wound that is actively bleeding, apply pressure first. If it's a smaller wound this will help start the clotting process or, if it’s a larger wound that’s ‘pumping’ blood, this will help reduce major blood loss while you wait for the vet to arrive.

It’s best to use a non-stick pad or gauze to stem the flow of blood and, if blood starts seeping through the pad, apply a new one over top. This will help prevent you from disturbing any blood clotting that may be happening already in the wound.

Smaller, superficial wounds will also benefit from an antibacterial gel, which will kill any germs in the wound, keep it moisturised, and help prevent infection.

Once you’ve controlled the bleeding - assess the wound

If you’ve managed to stem the bleeding, take some time to assess the wound. Is it very deep, is it near a joint, what type of wound is it, and how dirty is it?

If the wound is dirty try and clean it by gently flushing it with a saline solution. Removing debris or contaminants will help prevent infection and inflammation that could hinder healing.

Get your horse somewhere safe

If your horse can walk, take them somewhere safe where they’re less likely to injure themselves further. If the wound has caused lameness, however, it’s best to keep them where they are to prevent further distress.

Call your vet

If you have any concerns about your horse’s wound or if after a few days you start noticing inflammation or it's not healing as expected, call your vet. They’ll do a full assessment of the wound and the treatment that’s needed to aid healing and prevent further infection. Some wounds may require stitches and, in some cases, a tetanus shot may be warranted.

Be prepared

To be able to provide your horse with basic first aid if an injury occurs, it's handy to have some basic first aid items on hand. This could include a pair of scissors, pads and bandages, clean cloth, saline and an anti-bacterial gel or spray.

You’ll also want to have your vet’s phone number handy, so you don’t have to go hunting for it if time is of the essence. And, if you’re unsure where to start with a basic wound care kit or want to know the most important items to have on hand, your vet can advise. Or you can check with a knowledgeable person at your local tack shop.

Finally, the best thing to do if you’re treating your horse's wound is stay calm. This will help keep your horse calm too, so you can start treating their wound.