Horses have a highly refined sense of “fight or flight.” Unfortunately, when that instinct is triggered they will react no matter the cost, even if it means injuring themselves. Horses also spend a lot of time outdoors, running, and playing through the fields where they are exposed to all kinds of injury risks like sharp twigs, rocks, and even other animals. Even though they are incredibly graceful, any horse owner will tell you they can be very clumsy sometimes. That clumsiness can cause injury. In short, horses are very accident prone. So it is important that as a horse owner you understand what to do if they get injured. Here are my tips.
How to tell if your horse is wounded?
Horses are amazingly strong creatures. Unless there is a large obvious injury, it’s not always apparent to their owners right away. However, there are some signs and symptoms that will help you identify if your horse has been wounded:
- Unwillingness to move or bear loads
- Swelling or puffiness
- Heat and/or throbbing
- Blood, both liquid or dried, often most noticeable with an accumulation of flies
I always recommend checking your horse for both minor and major injuries when you let them out of their stable, when they have come back from being out in the pasture, and most importantly during their daily grooming. When grooming your horse be aware of any changes in temperament or behavior. Is the horse jitterish when you brush over a certain area, or do they refuse to perform a learned action such as raising the hoof? Sudden, unexplained changes should be a sign that there is something more for your or your vet to investigate.
Always stay prepared for horse wound care
It’s very important to keep a horse first aid kit at your stable at all times. I also recommend taking a basic kit with you when you go riding. A first aid kit will help you manage any injury. There are pre-packaged first aid kits that can be purchased online or at your local feed store. You can also put a kit together on your own. I recommend talking with your veterinarian for recommendations.
How to triage a serious wound
If you find that your horse has sustained a major wound, know that a horse in pain can react unpredictably. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid doing anything that can put yourself or anyone nearby in danger, or that may cause the animal to injure itself more. First, call your veterinarian, explain the situation and they will advise you on the best intimidate action to take.
While you wait for them to arrive, and only if it is safe to do so, there are some basic first aid steps you can take. If there is profuse bleeding, apply direct pressure to the area with a sanitized cloth or gauze. Then use an elastic bandage to dress the wound. This can help reduce some of the bleeding. Next, if possible try to move your horse to a clean and quiet place. Whether you can move them or not, try to stay with them to make sure they feel protected and safe while you wait for the vet to arrive.
Three steps to care for a minor wound
When your horse is wounded, it’s always a good idea to contact your veterinarian. Even with the best quality of home care, minor wounds can become major issues. However, there are some things you can do for minor injuries:
There is nothing scarier than seeing your horse in pain. Many of us immediately panic and go into a strong protective mode. However, we have to remember that horses feed off of our energies. When we are stressed, they will respond accordingly. However, if you stay calm, your horse is more likely to stay calm. But even when we stay calm, an injury can trigger stress in your horse, which can make it hard to inspect and care for their wounds. In these cases, creating a calming environment with the essential oils in Show-Thyme Calming Oil can really help. Blended with calming ingredients like lavender, clary sage, and ylang-ylang, a few drops as an inhalant can help calm your horse enough so you can begin caring for their wounds.
Clean the wound
The most important thing to do is to clean the wound. Gently rinse water over the area to remove all the dirt and debris. This can go a long way in helping to prevent an infection, but I recommend using Lavender Cleansing Spray as well to help sterilize the wound. This gentle cleanser contains witch-hazel and lavender, which has antiseptic properties that will not only clean the wound, but help reduce pain and irritation. We designed this product as a spray, rather than a traditional antiseptic wipe because it helps provide a gentler application and is easier to make sure that you are cleansing the entire area of the wound. You can spray it directly onto the area, or onto a clean cloth and wipe.
Keep your horse still
If a recovering hoses has too much movement it can pull at the tissues and keep the wound open. This will cause pain, prevent healing, and put them at risk of infection. After the wound has been treated, it is best to keep the horse in their stall, corral, or round pen if possible until they are fully healed so they aren’t exposed to bacteria, viruses, and fungus that can infect the wound. If they are a working horse, it’s a good idea to keep them off duty until the wound closes fully.
Continue to clean the area with Lavender Cleansing Spray several times a day for the first few days, until the wound shows signs of healing naturally – bleeding or other discharge has stopped and a clean scab has formed over the area. At this point you may switch to applying The Balm! to the area several times a day, as this will keep the skin moisturized and prevent dirt and infections from getting into the site.
Once you have treated the minor wound, it is very important to monitor its progress. If the wound doesn’t seem to be healing or shows any sign of worsening, you should call your veterinarian.
If you’d like to learn more about using our Lavender Cleansing Spay or The Balm!, ask in the comments below, give us a call at (515) 770-3517 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll happily answer any questions you have about how to use our products for horse wound care.