|Stop the Bleeding
Your horse got mixed up with something he
shouldn't have out in the field. He's cut
badly. There's blood everywhere. Do you dare
take the time to call your vet? And what
can you do to stop that gush of red?
It looks awful, but it's probably not as
bad as it looks. For one thing, even a little
blood looks like a lot spilling out of a
cut or puddling on the floor. For another,
just as you can safely give the Red Cross
a pint of blood, a horse can lose a gallon
and a half of blood with no consequences.
Unless he's cut a jugular vein or has been
bleeding for a long time, he's unlikely to
lose enough to endanger himself.
The more information you can provide, the
better you'll prepare the vet, and the more
specifically he can advise you. Three things
to find out before you call:
Where is the wound? Lower legs, from
knees down, are where most severe bleeding
happens because their major blood vessels
are close to the surface. Wounds over
or a joint can be serious because of
structures they may involve. Bleeding
the head looks dramatic, but no major
vessels are near the surface; unless
skull is damaged, bleeding there rarely
How is the wound bleeding? In arterial bleeding,
blood spurts out; it's coming from he heart
and traveling under high pressure. Arteries
in the lower leg are vulnerable because they
run close to the surface: over the back of
the sesamoid bones and down the back of the
pastern, and, in the hind leg, next to the
splint bone. Arteries higher in the body
are buried deeper and are more protected.
Venous bleeding is slower and more consistent;
the blood is returning to the heart under
lower pressure. Many veins sit fairly close
to the surface; in the leg, these include
the saphenous vein, which is large and easily
visible on the inside of the hock and hind
leg. Where a vein and an artery are right
next to each other, as at the back of the
sesamoid, an accident might easily sever
both; in that case bleeding is quite profuse.
Wound size doesn't always equal severity.
Small puncture wounds can be much more dangerous
than big ones because they're hard to clean
completely, so bacteria can get trapped inside.
How recent is the wound? Time is critical.
A wound treated and sutured during the first
six hours after it happens has the best chance
of being cleaned out completely and not becoming
infected. That's why I advise calling your
veterinarian before you do anything else.
Help the body heal itself: Clotting is your
horse's natural defense against bleeding.
If available you can use a powder called
Blood Stop to aide in the clotting mechanism.
You can help the process along by applying
pressure over the wound, giving the clot
something to form against. Ideally, you do
that with a pressure bandage. If the wound
is where you can't wrap it, such as high
on the body, steady manual pressure will
do the job until clotting shuts off the flow
or help arrives.
One good thing about a profusely bleeding
wound is that it's self-cleaning, so you're
safe encouraging clotting while you wait
for your vet. Of course, you want whatever
you put on the wound to be clean, too; if
you have a barn first aid kit handy, that's
not a problem. If you're not that lucky,
you can make do with a clean towel or shirt,
even a clean saddle pad if that's all you
have.Where you can't wrap: When you can't
pressure on a wound by surrounding
a bandage, you can still apply manual
Start with a thick wad of gauze if
and just press it onto the wound area
firmly as you can. Add padding if the
comes through; don't remove what's
and disturb the clotting process. Manual
pressure on facial wounds is not recommended,
they normally stop bleeding on their
Stem the flow: What you know about the wound
can help you limit the amount of bleeding.
If you're sure you're dealing with a severed
artery in a leg, for example, try to slow
the flow by pressing down directly on the
artery just above the wound. You may have even better luck
with a severed vein, applying pressure below the wound because the blood is traveling
up the leg; the saphenous vein inside the
hock, for example, is easy to see, so it's
easy to put pressure on to help the bandage
do it's work.
What else you can do: Keep calm and keep
the pressure on are the main guidelines to
follow while you wait for your vet. If you
and the vet have worked together before,
he may suggest a few additional things you
can do, but don't start any treatment on
your own and risk upsetting a delicate balance.
You want your horse to stay calm; if his
stall is convenient and he's calm there,
that's where you want him, unless he's the
rare horse who's bled so much that he's showing
signs of possible shock from fluid loss:
shakiness, elevated pulse, pale mucous membranes
in the mouth. In that case, he's better off
outside on the soft grass, where he'll be
cushioned if he collapses.
Cooling Your Horse Down
On hot summer days, your horse is at risk
for overheating during his regular workouts,
on trail rides, while being hauled, and at
shows. Overheating can lead to dehydration,
muscle cramping, colic, kidney failure -
even shock and death.
To find out if your horse is overheated,
take his temperature. An overheated horse's
rectal temperature can be as high as 104
to 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit; normal is between
99 and 101.5 degrees. If your horse's temperature
reaches 105 degrees, call your vet! Here's
a three-step method to help cool your hot
horse quickly and safely.
Step 1: Move him to a shady area, and get
the air around him moving - an electric fan
is one good way to do this. The shade will
protect him against the sun's heating effects;
air movement will aid in evaporation of moisture
from his body. The latter is his primary
mode of cooling.
Step 2: With cool water, swab the areas where
major blood vessels are close to the surface:
the jugular veins in his neck; in his armpits
and the inner surfaces of his forelegs; and
in his groin and the inner surfaces of his
thighs. Then wet his major muscle groups:
rump, back, and shoulders.
Step 3: Repeat this swabbing procedure every
5 minutes, or as soon as your horse air-dries,
until his temperature returns to normal.
From my experience this is the number one
problem seen by my friends and myself. Due
to the unnatural feeding and habitat our
horses find themselves their GI tract is
the first to suffer.Signs and symptoms may
differ from the horse swinging it's head
toward it's side and looking at it's belly,to
wobbling and going down. Keep your horse
moving if possible, medicate your horse as
you feel able and treat the causative problem
if you know it. Parasite control is a must
to avoid colic.
Feeding routine, amount, type and quality
of feed, exercise, climate, water, age all
play a part in the susceptibility of your
horse to colic. Once a horse has colic'd
he is more prone to do so in the future.
Colic can be a life threatening condition
and lead to total bowel obstruction and a
twisted "gut" , anastomosis of
the bowel resulting in shock and death.Call
your Vet immediately if symptoms of colic
are present. In the mean time you may want
to keep on hand Banamine or Rompin for use
in emergencies until your Vet can arrive
or when camping. Prevention is the key and
to as much as you can I would practice the
Condition your horse before going on strenuous
rides the same as any athlete. Consider the
temperature when making plans for distance,
elevation and speed. If an up coming ride
necessitates an increase in feed do it gradually.Never
grain or water your horse if he is hot, and
make sure the water is not icy cold. In hot
weather make sure you bring electrolytes
and either give in paste or powder form.
Buy good quality hay it saves in the long
run 10 fold. In the winter tank heaters can
be used to promote the intake of water .Don't
switch amounts or types of feed all at once
and try to stick to the same schedule when
ever possible. As the age of a horse goes
up the ability to properly digest his food
may go down due to teeth problems, exercise
or the decrease of normal gut action , placing
him on any of the equine senior feeds may
help him to utilize his feed better and avoid