Your horse is injured. Now What? Do you call the vet or is it something you can handle? I once had an old timer say: “It isn’t gushing blood and it isn’t near his heart, so he will be okay.”, but it is a little more complicated than that! Let’s go over some of the common injuries. DISCLAIMER: When in doubt, call a vet out!
Eyes are tricky and obviously very important to the horse. 99% of the time you should call a vet for anything eye related. Here is a list of symptoms to look for that require the vet’s attention:
- The eye is mostly or completely swelled shut.
- Profuse drainage of any color.
- Blood in or around the eyes.
- Visible foreign objects in the eyes.
- Cloudiness that wasn’t previously present.
- Your horse can’t stop rubbing it’s eye.
The part that make puncture wounds a concern is that you can’t always tell how deep they go. The smallest hole can cause the biggest problems. If you can tell exactly how deep the wound is, if may be fine to treat it yourself, but here are some symptoms where you need to call the vet.
- You see or feel something embedded in the skin.
- Severe swelling around the wound.
- Puss discharge.
- Bleeding that won’t stop from pressure after a few minutes.
- You have no idea how deep the wound is or how old it is.
- The horse has lost control of a body part.
There are so many degrees of limping when it comes to horses. While a severe, three legged limp might not be in an emergency in every case (i.e. a hoof abscess), a vet should be called in for any situation where a horse can’t function normally. Here are some additional signs to look for when it comes to limping.
- Horse cannot bare weight on a leg.
- Limping immediately after a bad fall or stumble.
- Severe or sudden swelling is always a cause for concern, but if it is specifically around a joint, it needs to be seen by a vet.
- Limping caused by a severe cut.
- Sudden swelling along a tendon or ligament.
The word that strikes fear in even the most experienced horseman. The problem with colic, besides everything, is symptoms don’t always point directly to the type of colic, leading treatment to a series of diagnostics, that can rack up a hefty bill. Here are some subtle and not so subtle signs that you need to watch for with your horse. If you think your horse is colicing call your vet immediately. They may have you “wait and see”, but at least they have been alerted and can be prepared to come and see your horse.
- Not coming up to eat at feeding time.
- Eating a few bites of fresh food and then walking away.
- Laying down at odd times. (Like in the middle of a meal.)
- Not drinking the amount they normally would.
- Looking at their sides or biting at their sides that isn’t being caused by flies.
- Kicking at the stomach, not related to flies.
- Repeated Flehmen response. (Lifting the upper lip)
- Rolling that is accompanied by frantic standing up and “plopping” down.
- Rolling in a strange spot. Like near a fence or on hard ground.
Due to their size, any cut can look like a severe cut on a horse. How do you know what the difference is? It is all a case by case basis, but here are some guidelines to follow.
- A cut that won’t stop bleeding, even after pressure had been applied.
- Gushing or pulsing bleeding.
- You can see tendons, ligament or bone.
- Cuts into the muscle.
- Large flaps of skin that you can’t see the actual size of the cut.
- Old cuts that are oozing puss.
Other Vet Worthy Symptoms
These issues don’t really fit into any category, but they should be of concern if seen in your horse.
- Green snot from the nostrils.
- Coughing that sounds like they can’t clear their through, especially if there is foam from the mouth or nostrils. (choke is likely)
- Large, round swelling under the jaw, on the chest, or around the sheath. (Pigeon Fever or Strangles)
- Nose is dramatically swollen and the horse is struggling to breathe. (snake bite)
Issues That Can Usually Be Handled By Yourself
- Minor eye drainage that is caused by fly irritation.
- Hock sores from laying down on hard ground.
- Minor cases of scratches or mud fever.
- Scrapes on skin that just take the hair off.
- Rain Rot.
- Small welts from bug bites.