Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to horse injuries that may end up requiring expensive veterinary treatment. It’s virtually impossible to prevent horses from injury all of the time but the following tips that can help you reduce the risk.
Contusions are a region of injured tissue or skin where the blood capillaries have been ruptured and result in external or internal bruising. They are caused by blunt trauma such as a kick from another horse. They may not appear as serious as lacerations (see below) but it is important to have them checked and, if necessary, treated by a vet. In the meantime you should ensure that your horse remains still and apply a cold compress to the injury.
Lacerations are among the most common horse injuries. These may vary in size, shape and deepness and can appear on almost any part of a horse’s body. Lacerations on a horse’s head and legs have a tendency to bleed profusely because the blood vessels in these areas are closer to the skin. If the wound appears to be deep or in a sensitive area such as close to the joint or tendon you should consult a vet immediately to lesson any long-term damage.
Lameness –To judge whether your horse is lame you need to be familiar with its normal gait and carriage. If your horse is experiencing any discomfort when standing or moving, or there is any evidence of swelling you should investigate immediately. The problem could be as simple as a stone caught in its foot. Alternatively, it might point to a bone fracture or ligament problems. Do not leave it more than a few hours before consulting a vet if the symptoms persist because it could lead to permanent damage.
Proud flesh – otherwise known as excessive granulation tissue – can occur during the natural healing process of a wound. As a wound recovers, excessive tissue can prevent the growth of new skin cells and stop the wound from closing over. Proud flesh can be caused by an infection, restricted blood supply or the horse moving around too much and preventing the wound from knitting together.
Puncture wounds can go unnoticed for a long time and this means their consequences can often be more serious, especially if they lead to deep tissue infection. It is advisable to consult your vet about this type of injury as it may need special treatment to ensure it does not harbour bacteria.
Scrapes and abrasions are common injuries that are likely to occur quite frequently. Although they may not be desperately serious, they could interfere with everyday activities such as grooming or riding. It’s therefore important to treat them with an antibacterial wash so they do not become infected and lead to more serious problems.
Saddle sores are exactly that – sores or wounds caused by an ill-fitting saddle or girth. You should stop riding your horse and give the wound a chance to heal and replace the ill-fitting saddle or girth once your horse has recovered. In the meantime, treat them in the same way as other scrapes and abrasions by bathing with an antibacterial wash.
How to prevent common horse injuries
- Check your pasture regularly for dangerous objects such as nails, jagged metal, plastic or glass and broken or rough fencing.
- Check your stable for potential accident spots or dangerous objects – such as nails protruding from walls or doors, stray hay forks or other obstacles that your horse could trip over or brush up against.
- Do your best to ensure your horse always has secure footing. Beware of icy patches around your stable, use rubber matting over wet floors or place dry hay or shavings in muddy gateways etc.
- Many horse injuries can be put down to poor fencing. Never enclose fields with barbed wire, ensure wooden fences are well maintained and if you have electric fences make sure your horse can see them by fixing bright ribbon at regular intervals.
- If your horse is turned out with other, make sure you know who his friends and enemies are! Many common injuries are the result of horses nipping or kicking one another and if there is constant aggressive behaviour you may need to consider separating the guilty parties.