Horse First Aid & Wound Care

Wound Care

All horse owners will, on occasion, be presented with a bleeding or fresh wound. Because of this, having first aid kit or a wound treatment kit on hand is a good idea. It is important to realize that horses can afford to lose a significant amount of blood, so control of bleeding is not as critical as in human first aid.


Just like in humans, the best way to control bleeding is with direct pressure. Obtain a sterile or (at least) clean pad and apply direct pressure for five to 10 minutes. Do not “dab” the wound; just press and do not release for at least five minutes. If the injury is on the lower leg, the leg can be bandaged. Do not remove the wrap even if blood soaks through. Do not apply a tourniquet under any circumstances. A simple pressure bandage will suffice.


Do not dress the wound with any topical powders or medications from an aerosol can. While these products may help control bleeding, they often contain caustic substances that may make it more difficult to suture the wound successfully.


When to call the veterinarian? If the wound is such that it requires sutures, that procedure should be done within twelve hours of the injury’s occurring for maximum chance of ideal wound healing. If the wound is on the face, suturing the wound can be delayed longer and still yield satisfactory results in most cases.

Eye Injuries
Management of an injured eye in a horse can be a severe, expensive, and time-consuming process. There are three main things that the client will notice about an abnormal appearance in a horse’s eye: (1) it is a different color (cloudy or blue instead of clear), (2) it is running liquid or perhaps pus, or (3) perhaps it appears painful because the horse is holding it closed or rubbing it.

This is the time to be very careful. Treatment with the wrong medication can potentially make the problem much worse. If the horse will allow examination of the eye without injuring the handler, it is all right to attempt to flush out the eye with sterile saline and examine the eye to see if the source of the problem is evident. Often the horse will resist this treatment, so it should only be attempted if the handler is confident and careful. If the eye is painful, then some Bute, or preferably Banamwe may be administered. However, no treatment other than the saline flush should be put in the eye until directed by your EVA veterinarian.
First Aid for Colic

Colic is a horseman’s term for anything that causes a horse to show signs of abdominal distress or pain. You should consider the possibility that your horse has colic if it is simply off its feed, and should take appropriate first aid measures. First assess the horses “vital signs” temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, intestinal activity as well as check for evidence and character of manure. If the horse’s temperature is normal, less than 102, then it is probable that the cause of the horse not eating is caused by abdominal pain. More overt signs of abdominal pain may include stretching, pawing, kicking at belly, looking at flanks, or lying down and rolling.

Once it is decided that the horse may be colicy, it is best to exercise the animal by walking it, or even trotting it, to encourage intestinal activity. Food should be removed from the horse and it should be closely watched for additional signs of abdominal pain. It is wise to contact the on call veterinarian for specific instructions for how to proceed based on the specific signs that your horse is showing.