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Wounds, and their prevention...
Wounds, and their prevention...

Wounds are such a common problem with horses, we will be spending the next few weeks discussing the wide variety we see.  Hopefully we will be able to think of better titles than “Wounds 1, Wounds 2...,” etc.  As we so often mention, it never ceases to amaze us how many different ways the horse finds to injure itself.  Some of these wounds need repaired immediately, others cannot be repaired.  Some are life threatening while others are more disfiguring then dangerous.  We will be discussing how to tell the difference and how best to treat the wounds.  With the horse, once it has been determined the patient’s life is not threatened, we must direct our attention to healing wounds so Dobbin will be sound and attractive.  The most immediate question asked of us after the initial exam is “Will this leave a scar?”

An important part of our vaccination program is tetanus toxoid.  Tetanus is an organism passed in the stool of the horse, so it is everywhere the horse will be.  This widespread presence is the reason the horse and those of us with horses must stay current with our boosters.  The annual booster will provide the horse with protection against the tetanus bacteria.  The bacteria’s favorite route of entry into the horse is through wounds.  They provide the warm, moist, air-free environment that is ideal to the bacteria.  Of course if we see wounds, we immediately think of vaccinating, or if it has been over six months since the last booster we will give another.

 Just as important are the wounds we do not see. Many of these are puncture wounds that lose little blood and are not gaping for us to see.  A puncture wound also provides the exact environment we described above.  Keeping Dobbin vaccinated will provide him protection from these hidden wounds.

This might be a good time to look around the environment where the horse lives. Removing the obvious hazards such as pieces of tin, open cans or pipes, gates made of flat aluminum, and discarded farm machinery will help to reduce the cause of many of the more serious wounds of the legs.

Check the environment for exposed nail heads, open hooks, ends of wire panels or fencing, and of course the most popular of all ways to injure themselves: the barbed wire fence.  If barbed wire is present on the farm (as it is on most) and the horses stay in close contact with it or there are several horses in a small area enclosed with barbed wire, you might consider the use of electric fencing with it.  A single energized wire stretched anywhere from three feet to the top of the fence will keep the horse from pushing on it, pawing it, or making contact with the next door neighbor.

If you are curious why we are addressing wounds at this time, our reasoning is two-fold.  First, most of our recent articles have been on foaling or breeding.  To keep as many of you reading these articles as possible, we must realize that not everyone is enjoying the challenges of getting the mare in foal and one year later ‘experiencing the thrill and fatigue” of delivering it.  With this series we will give the rest of you something to read.  (The clients with mares will not be able to stay awake long enough to read them, anyway.)

An even more important reason is the Equine Field Day scheduled for this Saturday, April 15th, at Risner Stables.  This event starts at 10 AM and continues into the afternoon, with lunch provided, While it is one of the annual events of the Missouri Quarter Horse Association, it will provide information everyone can use. There will even be a discussion on wounds, first aid, and how to determine the need for immediate attention.  Sound familiar?  Make plans to attend, call the stables with any questions, and we will see you there.

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