Horse Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds

Equine first aid for minor skin wounds and burns on horses.

    equine first aid for minor skin wounds & burns on horses

    Select a Topic

    1. What are Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds?
    2. What Causes Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds?
    3. Help for Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds
    4. More Information on Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds

    What are Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds?

    If you own a horse, you will know that it doesn’t take much for a horse to sustain a superficial cut, scrape, or other injury such as burns. A cut or a scrape is a mild abrasion to the surface layer of the skin. This may cause bruising, or it may open the skin, causing superficial bleeding.

    If your horse sustains a cut or scrape that causes a deep gash or open wound in the skin, immediate treatment is necessary. Consult with your vet if your horse shows signs of shock or distress, or if the bleeding cannot be stemmed.

    What Causes Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds?

    Equine wounds and lacerations are usually caused by the instinctive flight-or-fight response to danger; dominance (the need to establish the pecking order within a herd) or natural curiosity. A barn may also have potential risks for injury such as feed buckets that are not removed after feeding, exposed nails or hooks, rough edges on fences or loose stable doors.

    Help for Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds

    Treatment for horse burns, cuts, and scrapes usually includes cleaning of the wound site, anti-inflammatories to stop swelling, pain relief medication and antibiotics (depending on the cause and seriousness of the wound). If your horse has injured itself on a rusty hook or nail, a tetanus shot will be given.

    Natural Remedies

    There are many herbal and homeopathic remedies that can provide horse wound care support by helping to promote healing. Linseed Oil and Wintergreen Oil are rich sources of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which is a biologic precursor to omega-3 fatty acids. These oils contain soothing properties, especially with regards to healing.

    Herbs such as Horsetail and Comfrey can support the health of the skin and limit bruising and tenderness. Marigold, Lavender and St John’s Wort have been shown to promote the repair of damaged tissues, while Arnica has been extensively researched for its healing properties. Many natural remedies have been scientifically proven to discourage infection.

    More Information on Cuts, Scrapes and Wounds

    Tips for emergency horse wound care

    It is very important for you to know your horse’s normal vital signs (temperature, pulse and respiration), as well as its normal behavior patterns. Take readings when your horse is at rest, and write them down. (Speak to your vet if you are unsure of how to do this).

    • Move the horse to a stall or other familiar surroundings if this is possible without causing distress or further injury to the horse.
    • Consult your veterinarian for a recommendation before you attempt to clean the wound or remove debris or penetrating objects.
    • Stop the bleeding by covering the wound with a sterile, absorbent pad (not cotton), applying firm, steady, even pressure to the wound.
    • Do not medicate or tranquilize the horse unless specifically directed by your veterinarian.
    • If the eye is injured, do not attempt to treat. Await your veterinarian.
    • If a horse steps on a nail or other sharp object and it remains embedded in the hoof, consult your veterinarian for a recommendation before you remove the nail.

    Make sure your horse’s stable is safe:

    • Remove buckets after feeding
    • Secure stable doors and loose nails
    • Always take your horse out of the stable for shoeing and maintenance – as needles can get quickly lost in bedding and hay and put their legs and hooves at risk for injury.

    Note: Always call your vet if there appears to be excessive bleeding, the entire skin thickness has been penetrated, the wound occurs near or over a joint, any structures underlying the skin are visible, a puncture has occurred, a severe wound has occurred in the lower leg at or below knee or hock level, the wound is severely contaminated.