Skip to content
  • Print

What you should do

Every wound is different, so you should always consult your vet if you are concerned about your horse's injury. Here are some of the things that are generally recommended:

Calm your horse: Calm your horse so that it is easier to examine the injury and give first aid. 

Wash your hands: This helps to avoid further contamination of the wound.

Control bleeding: Apply direct pressure to the wound, preferably using a sterile bandage. If a sterile bandage isn't available, use a clean bandage or other clean material. Keep adding bandage material until the bleeding is controlled. 

Clean around the wound: Once bleeding has been controlled, gently clean the area around the wound with sterile saline, clean water, mild soap or mild antiseptic. Don't use disinfectant as this may harm the wound.

  • Swab away from the wound to keep dirt and debris from getting into it. 
  • If you use a mild soap to clean around the wound, remove any soap residue with saline solution or clean water.
  • Trimming the hair around the wound might be required. If so, use scissors or clippers, but avoid getting hair into the wound.

Clean the wound: Gently flush the wound – preferably with sterile saline solution, or clean water – to remove contamination. Use a syringe (without the needle) or a spray bottle to flush the wound. With clean hands, gently remove any foreign material that is sticking to the wound then gently flush the wound again. Discontinue flushing if you notice the tissues begin to turn grey.

Contact your vet: Some wounds will require veterinary treatment, so if in doubt, contact your vet who will be able to give you expert advice about other care that might be required including:

  • Topical antimicrobial products – For some wounds, gentle cleaning may be all that is required. But other wounds may benefit from application of topical antimicrobial products that help to reduce surface contamination and the risk of infection. 
  • Antibiotics – Depending on the wound, your vet may also prescribe antibiotics by mouth or by injection. Antibiotics may be required if: it is a deep wound; the wound may still contain foreign material after cleaning; the horse shows signs of infection (e.g. fever, depression, loss of appetite); or the horse has a poor immune system.
  • Suturing (stitching) – Some wounds may require stitching, while others may heal well without. There are no specific rules, but generally, suturing may be recommended for: clean-cut wounds with minimal tissue damage that are treated by a vet within a few hours; eyelid wounds; wounds of the joints (after thorough cleaning).

Ensure current tetanus vaccination: Wounds in horses increase the risk of tetanus (a severe and potentially fatal disease). So make sure your horse is up-to-date with his or her tetanus vaccinations. If not, it is recommended that you contact your local vet to arrange a tetanus booster shot or tetanus anti-toxin.