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Healing Horse Wounds: Guide to Treating Equine Injuries

Published on: April 14, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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When my daughter’s horse ran through a barbed wire fence, I quickly realized how crucial it is to know how to handle equine injuries. Frightened and bleeding, she seemed to beg for my help. That moment inspired me to learn all I could about horse wound care.

I learned about common equine injuries, such as abrasions, lacerations, puncture wounds, and injuries from bites or kicks. Prompt identification and treatment of these wounds are essential to prevent complications like infections or long-term damage that could impact our horses’ overall health.

By following this guide, you’ll be better prepared to handle common horse wounds and injuries to ensure your horse has a better chance to recover effectively. Consulting a veterinarian is always recommended for professional advice tailored to your horse’s needs.

Picture of horse wounds at the lower leg.
Abrasion wound

Identifying Horse Wounds and Injuries

Identifying horse wounds and injuries involves being vigilant about the various types of common wounds and the signs that something is wrong. Familiarize yourself with abrasions (superficial scrapes), lacerations (deep cuts), puncture wounds, and injuries caused by bites or kicks.

These injuries may manifest in different ways, and it’s essential to know what to look for. Keep an eye out for signs of injury, such as swelling, lameness, discharge from a wound, or any behavioral changes like reluctance to move or signs of discomfort.

Being aware of these indicators will help you identify when your horse may be in pain or experiencing an injury that requires attention. When assessing the severity of an injury, consider factors like the depth, size, and location of the wound, as well as the presence of active bleeding or signs of infection.

If you’re ever unsure about the severity of a wound or if it’s affecting your horse’s normal function, don’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian for guidance. Prioritizing caution and seeking professional advice will ensure your horse receives the proper care and treatment they need.

Initial Steps for Treating Horse Wounds

Taking the initial steps to treat horse wounds begins with ensuring your safety and that of the injured horse. When approaching the horse, remain calm and speak in soothing tones to keep the animal at ease.

Be aware of your horse’s body language and any signs of distress. It’s also important to use personal protective equipment, such as gloves, to minimize the risk of infection for you and the horse.

Once you’ve safely approached the injured horse, the next step is to clean the wound. Gently irrigate the area using a sterile saline solution to remove debris and reduce the risk of infection. Afterward, apply an antiseptic solution to further disinfect the wound.

In addition to cleaning the wound with antiseptic solutions, there are topical treatments that can be applied to promote healing and prevent infection. These may include antibiotic ointments, hydrogels, or medicated creams specifically formulated for horses.

Remember to be gentle and patient during this process, as your horse may be in pain or feeling anxious. After cleaning the wound, assess whether further treatment is necessary. If the injury appears severe or you’re unsure how to proceed, it’s best to consult a veterinarian. In the meantime, administer basic first aid, such as applying pressure to control bleeding or using a clean bandage to cover the wound.

By acting quickly and seeking professional guidance if needed, you can ensure your horse receives the appropriate care for a successful recovery.

Picture of a horse's leg being treated for a wound.
Wound care

Advanced Wound Care Techniques

For more advanced wound care, certain techniques may be necessary to promote proper healing. Depending on the severity and type of injury, wound closure methods such as suturing, staples, or skin glue might be required.

These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian, who will choose the most appropriate method based on the specific wound characteristics. Wound dressings play a crucial role in protecting and facilitating the healing process.

Various dressings are available, each with specific functions, such as absorbing drainage, maintaining moisture, or providing a barrier against bacteria. Your veterinarian will recommend the most suitable dressing for your horse’s wound and advise you on how often to change it to maintain a clean and optimal healing environment.

Pain management is another essential aspect of advanced wound care. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine, can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help manage your horse’s pain and reduce inflammation.

Other pain relief options may include local anesthetics, cold therapy, or therapeutic massage. Always consult your veterinarian before administering drugs to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your horse’s condition.

Monitoring and Aftercare

Monitoring and aftercare are vital components of ensuring a successful recovery for your horse. Regularly checking the wound is essential to track the healing progress and identify potential complications.

Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as increased swelling, redness, heat, or pus-like discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately. Additionally, monitor the overall healing progress to ensure the wound is closing and becoming less inflamed over time.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation are often necessary for horses recovering from an injury. Start with allowing your horse to rest and gradually reintroduce activity as the wound heals. Your veterinarian may recommend specific stretching and strengthening exercises tailored to your horse’s injury to help restore mobility, strength, and flexibility. I

t’s essential to follow your veterinarian’s guidance on the appropriate level of activity for your horse during recovery to prevent re-injury or complications. Preventing future injuries is an ongoing process that requires proper horse care.

Ensure your horse’s living environment is safe and free from hazards like sharp objects or uneven terrain. Regular grooming, hoof care, and dental checkups will help maintain your horse’s overall health and reduce the risk of injury.

Additionally, providing a balanced diet, appropriate exercise, and routine veterinary care are fundamental to ensuring your horse’s well-being and reducing the chances of future injuries.

Picture of our horse in a stall.
Our horse is on stall rest.


Understanding how to identify, treat, and manage horse wounds is an essential skill for every horse owner. From recognizing common injuries and their signs to administering initial care and monitoring the healing process, being knowledgeable and prepared can make a significant difference in your horse’s recovery.

Remember, always consult a veterinarian for professional advice and guidance tailored to your horse’s unique needs. By investing time and effort into learning about equine wound care, you not only help ensure your horse’s well-being but also strengthen the bond you share with your beloved companion.

With proper care, attention, and a commitment to prevention, you can keep your horse healthy, happy, and ready for a lifetime of memorable experiences together.


Can you use hydrogen peroxide for wounds on horses?

Hydrogen peroxide is not recommended for treating wounds on horses. This is because hydrogen peroxide can cause tissue damage, delay the healing process, and impede the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Why do wounds on horses result in proud flesh?

Proud flesh results from excessive granulation of tissue during healing. Horses are prone to it due to their unique physiology and high-tension areas. Factors include poor circulation, infection, and inadequate wound care. Management involves cleaning, bandaging, topical medications, or surgery.