Utilizing Your First Aid Kit for More Serious Injuries

If you have not read the previous post on the basic first aid kit, read that here.

This post is going to delve into how to utilize many of the tools mentioned in the last blog for deeper abrasions and puncture wounds. With any equine emergency, time is of the essence. When you first spot a puncture or more serious cut, you need to tackle it immediately. Learning how to use all the tools in your arsenal is critical.

Working with the same first aid kit in the last blog, here are some of the basic products you should have on hand:

  • Mild Surgical Soap (Betadine)
  • AluShield (Aluminum spray)
  • Vet Wrap
  • Syringes
  • Gauze or Sheet Cotton
  • Diapers
  • Duct Tape
  • Epsom Salt
  • Poultice/Epsom Salt Poultice
  • Liniment
  • Clear Eyes/Saline Solution

For larger abrasions, lacerations, and puncture wounds, the horse should be started on Sulfadiazine/Trimethoprim (SMZs). If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), you have some in your personal stock to give to your horse immediately. These are antibiotics to prevent infection. We will go through general care on two types of wounds that can either prevent a veterinarian call or give you peace of mind as you wait for the vet to get to your farm. 

Deeper Abrasions and Lacerations 

Whether the horse needs stitches or not, you can use your betadine and sheet cotton to clean the wound. If the injury is not too deep, you may be able to get away with keeping it clean, covered, and administering your SMZs for 5-7 days. With most abrasions, you should wrap the leg with a bandage or vet wrap to help prevent the formation of proud flesh. If you feel stitches may be necessary, or are more comfortable with professional care, the vet will have to make the trip. 

Helpful Hint: Proud flesh (also called Excess Granulation Tissue) is when tissue begins to grow uncontrollably over the wound. It is more common in injuries below the knee and hock. Applying Wonderdust before you tightly wrap the wound is a great way to prevent proud flesh before it happens. In serious cases, the vet needs to remove proud flesh. However, as long as you do not neglect the injury and take precautions; that can be avoided. 

Puncture Wounds 

Puncture wounds are much more complicated than an abrasion. Luckily for me, I have been through numerous semi-serious puncture wounds in the five years with Herin, with pictures to prove it! The catch with a puncture wound is you do not want it to remain closed. Puncture wounds are deeper than they are wide and must heal from the inside out to prevent tetanus or any other form of infection. If you find a puncture wound, the vet will insert a syringe as far as possible and squirt a saline type solution to make sure it is clean. After this, each day you will have to remove the scab that formed overnight, and reinsert a new syringe with solution to clean it again. This will likely need to be done anywhere from three days to two weeks, depending on how deep the puncture. Keeping it closed and thinking it will just heal is a bad idea. With the lack of oxygen, bacteria is able to form and worsen. 

In my personal experiences, the care for the puncture varies on the location of it on the horse. For example, in this photo, Herin’s puncture was dangerously close to his eye. To top it off, it was so deep that it went to his bone. This resulted in two weeks of syringe cleaning, which as you can imagine, Herin loved. Due to the difficulty in getting near this wound, once it was clean, I did not put anything else on him. Recently, Herin came in from the field with a puncture on his inside front leg with a decent amount of swelling. After I talked to my vet, we both agreed I would sweat wrap the leg each night to bring down the swelling, clean it with betadine and sheet cotton as well as a syringe during the day, and pack it with a bit of Wonderdust to prevent proud flesh. Every horse is different, but having a basic set of tools and understanding will also help your vet when he tells you what to do. As we all know, there are countless products in the horse world which can be daunting at times. I have many other favorite go to products.

If you are just learning how to care for a horse, ask your barn friends, manager, vet, or me what products they prefer for your situation. It will not take long before you feel like you are a professional in the wound department.

From one horse crazed human to another – Maria Holman  

References: Equine Research Inc., Veterinary Treatments and Medications for Horsemen. Tyler, Texas, 2003

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