September 18, 2010 - First Aid and Wound Care

  • September 14, 2010
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 The Thoroughbred horse is a refined and elegant animal, endowed with natural speed and strength along with an
engaging personality. Athletic ability makes this breed a stellar competitor in many equestrian pursuits, with
many occasions to incur sports-related injuries. The Thoroughbred’s curious temperament also often leads him to stick his
nose (or body) into potentially harmful situations. Whether at work in training and competition or lounging around in
paddock or pasture on the farm, horses can get into trouble, sometimes acquiring distressing injuries. As an owner, trainer,
or farm manager, you can take charge of the situation to affect the outcome. Initial handling of an emergency injury may make
a difference in how quickly a horse heals.

Dr. Jennifer Feiner responds to many emergencies as part of her
veterinary work at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington.
She noted, “Most common first aid situations seen on Thoroughbred
farms are lacerations and puncture wounds.” When
faced with a wound, you can take steps to gather information
about its significance and severity until your vet arrives. Some
injuries may appear as wide-open lacerations; others, as only a
small hole through the skin without the ability to gauge its depth.
Even a large laceration might hide some deeper penetration into
significant structures.

First off, with any wound, check your vaccination records, and
be sure your horse’s prophylactic tetanus status is up-to-date.
Puncture wounds occur not just from penetrating objects but
also from blunt trauma, such as a kick from another horse—tissues
separate to produce a tunnel (or tract) beneath the area of impact.
An open wound or a puncture into a joint or tendon sheath
needs immediate, urgent veterinary care. In the meantime, you
should strive to protect the wound from further trauma and contamination
by cleaning and covering the area.

Feiner recommends cleansing the wound with cold, running
water to assess the extent of the injury better. It also keeps injured
tissue viable and moist until the vet arrives. If the horse
won’t allow cold hosing or if it appears the wound is so deep that
water immersion may be a disadvantage, then clean it as best as
possible with salt water (1⁄2 tablespoon salt per quart of water)
and antiseptic scrub (povidone iodine or
chlorhexidine). Rinse well, dry, and then
apply a bandage.

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