Horse First Aid: Coping with a Cut

Horse first aid: what you need to know if your horse suffers from a laceration.
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Horse first aid: what you need to know if your horse suffers from a laceration.
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As a horse owner, sooner or later you'll encounter a laceration-whether it's a minor cut that's easily managed or a major accident that you know right away needs veterinary attention. But what about those lacerations that fall in between obviously minor and very bad? How do you know when to call the vet, and what to do while you're waiting for him to arrive?

1) First, remain calm and get help. You'll need to find someone to hold your horse while you assess the wound. If you are unsure about what to do, call the vet.

2) Examine the wound and the bleeding. A rule of thumb is that if the blood is coming faster than you can count the drops, or there is excessive bleeding, the wound is serious.

Call the vet immediately if:

  • The entire skin thickness is affected.
  • The wound is near or over a joint.
  • Any structures underlying the skin are visible.
  • Any puncture.
  • The wound is contaminated.

4) Measure the wound so you can tell the vet the length, width and depth of the wound.

5) If the wound isn't serious, stop the bleeding and clean the wound. To do so, pile up a number of gauze pads or a very clean towel and hold pressure on the wound. Clean with diluted Betadine, being careful not to damage the skin flaps. Cover with non-stick gauze, like Tefla, and an elastic bandage if possible.

6) Remember, when in doubt, call the vet.