If you discover your horse has a laceration, call your veterinarian immediately. As you wait for help arrive, take the following steps to staunch bleeding and keep your horse calm and comfortable.
• Apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Grab the cleanest cloth you have at hand—bandages are best but a towel, your shirt, a saddle pad will do—and press it gently but firmly against the wound. Do not ease up on the pressure while the bleeding continues. If the fabric becomes soaked with blood, place another directly over it. If it’s possible, you can also use a bandage to hold the cloth in place.
• Find a safe treatment area. If you can do so safely, walk the horse to a quiet, well-lit area with access to running water. However, do not move the horse if you are having difficulty controlling the bleeding or if you suspect there may also be injury to a tendon or bone. If the horse seems reluctant to move, let him stay where he is until help arrives.
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• Keep the horse calm. Bringing in a quiet buddy to stand nearby may help settle an anxious horse. If the wound is not on his head or neck, you can offer him hay and water.
• Flush the wound. Once the bleeding has slowed, use a gentle stream of water from a hose to rinse the wound as thoroughly as you can. You want to remove any dirt or small debris that may be clinging to the exposed tissues. Do not use a high-pressure spray attachment—you may push debris deeper into the wound. (Note: Skip this step if the bleeding was pulsatile and spurting; if an artery might be involved you do not want to risk restarting the bleeding—just leave your bandage in place and wait for the veterinarian)
• Look for foreign material. Splinters or other foreign objects stuck in a wound can slow healing. If you see anything, leave it in place until the veterinarian arrives. She may need to determine the depth and track of any punctures within the larger wound. If embedded debris falls away while you are waiting, keep the object to show to your veterinarian.
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