Emergency Care for Horses

September 3, 2007 (published)

If you have horses, at some point you will be faced with an emergency. The first thing to do, of course, is to call your vet. But until your vet arrives, there are some things you can do to help your horse. A common injury is a puncture in the foot by a nail or some other object. Most horses will immediately develop severe lameness and anytime this occurs you should check your horse’s foot for foreign objects. If you find a nail or other object, Dr. Mark Fitch from Colorado recommends removing the nail and I agree. Many vets recommend leaving the nail in the hoof until they arrive so they can see where the puncture occurred. However, the more the horse walks on the nail, the greater the possible damage. So remove the nail and clean the hoof but it is imperative that you draw a map or somehow mark the exact location of the puncture because your vet will need to know this when they arrive. These punctures will close quickly and will not be easy to find without marking after the nail is removed. Your vet will usually place a metal probe in the nail track and may even x-ray the hoof with the probe in place to determine the depth of the puncture. Although many nail punctures are not this serious and you may not consider them emergencies, some are life threatening. If the nail or other object entered a joint or tendon sheath, the resulting infection can be deadly so all of these punctures should be considered emergencies. Your vet will check the location to determine if the wound is serious.

Another emergency occurs if your horse gets a cut on the lower leg and almost all of these cuts will require wrapping. Join us on our next program when I will discuss the best method for wrapping your horse's leg wounds.

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