Handling Horse Injuries and Wound Management

horse girl taking care of her horse

Horses are mighty, strong, and sturdy animals that run fast for long, taking no rest. In ancient times horses were used to travel from city to city, covering vast lands, running all day long. Handling horse injuries and horse wound management is an emergency topic. Nowadays, we use horses in race clubs, carry loads, games, etc. These mighty beings have a well-developed 'Fight and Flight' response system, which means that they are more prone to give immediate reactions and flee in case some abrupt and unlikely change occurs in their surroundings. Especially when horses move into hospitals, they react and get injured. So one must handle horses with great care, and you can not make horses do something they do not want to do.

combined driving horses could be at risk for injuries

When do horses get most injuries?

If you visit an equine hospital or ask an equine veterinarian, you will know those horse injuries depend on which purpose horses are being used for. For example, horses carrying loads slip on the grounds, mostly in rainy seasons. And those used for games get injuries when they take sharp turns. What are Common Horse Injuries? As told, the earlier type of injury depends on the horse's work. But one thing common in horses is that most injuries are related to the limbs, not the upper main body mass. More blood supply in muscular mass makes these injuries heal quickly.

equine leg wound wrapped with bandages for healing

Contusions, lacerations, and puncture wounds are common in horses. These injuries can occur even while moving a horse out of the stable if the size of the stable is small. If the horse does experience an injury, you must provide proper horse wound management; otherwise, it can prove lethal for your friend, especially when wounds are on the lower limb.

The question is, why muscular body injury is less severe? The point is that muscle mass has a rich blood supply and heals quickly, while the hard connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints do not have a rich blood supply. So, in case of an injury, the muscular wounds heal quickly, being enriched with inflammatory and healing cells. At the same time, the lower limbs (bones, joints, etc.) lack these inflammatory cells, and the healing process takes a long period. So horse wound management of the lower limb is more critical.

Which horse injuries are lethal?

Veterinarian looking at the horse leg for injuries

For now, you have a clear mind that the lower limb and bone injuries take time to heal and can be lethal. Let's have a look at major lethal injuries that can occur that you should be aware of:

  • Restraining a horse for clinical examination or body scoring purposes inside a crush, especially when space is small, can make the horse panic.

  • Casting horses, especially for clinical procedures, is laborious work. While casting, the horse's head gets stuck to the ground if not kept upwards. Head injuries cause the immediate death of the horses. So, handling horses requires expertise.

  • Long bone fractures such as fractures of long pastern bone are also common in horses due to the kick, fall, or knock.

A horse caretaker must be vigilant and expert enough to avoid any injury; he should not delay calling a veterinarian because injury in horses, especially the head or lower limb, are an emergency.

Understanding the process of healing horse wounds:

Understanding the process of healing is important to learn horse wound management. Following are three steps of wound healing:

  • Inflammatory Phase: In the first phase, the body stops the bleeding by making a clot if the injury is small, and inflammatory cells rush to prevent the entry of any pathogen.

  • Proliferative Phase: The wound gets strength through the proliferation of granulation tissues and fibroblasts.

  • Maturation phase: In this phase, scar tissue forms, and tissues start to take their normal shape.

Horse Wound Management:

After learning all the background of the wounds in horses, let's talk about horse wound management:

  1. First of all, do not panic and try to calm the horse. Your friend is in pain, so you are too. You need to keep yourself calm.

  2. See the wound and, depending upon the extent or severity of the wound, clean the wound with an excess amount of clean water, remove dirt from the tissues. Remove any chance of infection.

  3. After washing, apply antiseptic cream or wash with an antiseptic solution.

  4. You can also apply antibiotic cream on the wound, even on the open wound. Again consult your veterinarian on which antibiotic cream to use.

  5. Now comes the question of covering the wound or not to. Some wounds heal better when kept open, and some when well covered. If there is pus accumulation of dirt, you must not cover the wound and wash it daily.

  6. In the market, there is honey-made cream available for managing horse wounds. You can also go for that.

  7. You can also use the red light therapy technique in horse wound management. Waves of red light and infrared radiations help reduce the pain and heal wounds faster. These waves have the ability to provide energy to the mitochondria (the cell's powerhouse), so the cell's energy increases and cells heal soon. Therefore, you can use red light therapy on your horse when the injury occurs and continue to use during the healing process.

Electromagnetic spectrum chart shows red light and infrared light waves
Photo: Labster Theory

When to call your veterinarian?

Following are the cases when you must call your veterinarian:

  • Excessive bleeding

  • If the wound is large enough and got dirty, then your vet should inject prophylactic antibiotics.

  • Pus accumulation

  • Any signs of lameness

  • Puncture wounds

Your veterinarian will do a thorough physical examination and may use local anesthesia to examine and treat the wound properly. First aid is as important in horses as it is in humans, so a horse caretaker must learn basic first aid techniques and medications and handle horse injuries and horse wound management.

Red Light Therapy Wound Care

Be sure to continue to look after your horse when the injury occurs and the following days after the initial injury. You want to look for any increased inflammation, pus or lameness. Be sure to work closely with your vet if you have any questions or concerns.

red light therapy pads on the horse for recovery and pain relief

Red light therapy can be a great complementary tool when taking care of your horse. Below are some of the great benefits this type of therapy provides:

  • Stimulates vasodilation

  • Stimulates adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

  • Stimulates collagen production

  • Stimulates lymphatic drainage

  • Stimulation of phagocytic activity

  • Stimulates hormones such as serotonin for inflammation reduction and endorphins for pain relief

  • Stimulates formation of new capillaries and tissue granulation

Poll to Pastern offers red light therapy sessions and red light therapy pad rental kits. Providing your horse with therapy sessions from a certified practitioner is much more beneficial for the initial healing process. Our practitioners use the red light pads and pair acupressure points to provide the best benefit to the healing process. Acupressure paired with red light can also be called photopuncture. That is the use of light instead of needles to activate the acupressure points.

person using red light therapy on horse injury to help speed recovery

We offer red light therapy rental packages for your at home use. You can use the red light pad 3-4 times a day to provide the cells the energy they need to heal the wound faster. Renting the light between sessions is also very beneficial. You can provide pain natural pain relief, boost the cells energy to heal, and help the body remove inflammation.

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