Equine Wounds

The day started and ended with wire cuts on horses. This malady is expected if you own a horse and it is alive. It doesn’t matter how careful you are cuts and horses go together. The first horse was enjoying a lovely morning (6:00 am) scratching its neck on the corral fences when it found a small sliver and opened its neck up in the common flap wound. Flaps are a typically finding when the wound occurs from a pointed object. Flaps are typically easy to repair but beware. Blood supply to the skin typically comes from top to bottom and when a flap occurs you may experience loss of blood to the flap tip resulting in dead skin in several days.

The last horse of the day was enjoying a warm evening and decided to remedy a small itch on its posterior side. Unfortunately the nail proved to be too small a scratching post and inflicted a deep wound to the buttocks. This wound was old and as a result of its depth it was decided to leave the wound open and allow it to heal by second intention.

Consider these things when your horse develops a cut. If you are at all considering having the wound sutured contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Most consider less than 10 hours as the cut off for suturing a wound. Wounds that occur below the knee or hock are prime candidates to develop proud flesh (exuberant granulation tissue) and should be discussed with your veterinarian as to appropriate care. Remember to keep all wounds clean and to apply fly spray around the wounds as necessary in the spring and summer months.

Care and Bandaging of Horse Wounds

Wounds on horses, especially lower leg wounds, require diligent care if they are to heal correctly with minimal proud flesh.  The following principles, if followed, will greatly enhance your chances of having minimal scarring.

  • Cleanliness - Keep the wound clean to minimize chance of infection.
  • Protection - Wraps decrease the likelyhood of further damaging the healing wound.
  • Pressure - A well applied pressure wrap will help minimize proud flesh and deformation.
  • Decrease movement - Movement of skin edges will slow healing and create proud flesh. Confining the horse and sometimes splinting the leg will help.
  • Medications - Be diligent with prescribed medications such as antibiotics and antiinflammatories. Also ask your vet for the appropriate ointment to use on the wound.

Wrapping

Please use the following protocol for wrapping the wound unless otherwise advised.

  1. LAYER 1 - Telfa pad (or non-stick sterile dressing)
  2. LAYER 2 - Soft absorbant layer (cast padding or cling gauze) to hold telfa onto leg.
  3. LAYER 3 - Thick padding (combine roll, roll cotton, diaper or quilt or fleece leg wrap).
  4. LAYER 4 - Non stretchable brown gauze - to apply even pressure.
    • OPTIONAL LAYER - Splint applied with brown gauze.
  5. LAYER 5 - Vetwrap or derby wrap
  6. LAYER 6 - Stretchable sticky tape for top and bottom of wrap (elastikon)