Horses are inherently accident prone, so being able to deal with minor issues by yourself is a real skill – as well as giving your credit card a break. But regardless of your enthusiasm for learning equine first aid, you need to know when it really is time to call in the big guns.
While some ailments might be an obvious call to your vet – for example, a puncture wound or lameness – other signs, such as napping or poor performance, can often be overlooked as him being lazy or naughty. It can be hard to know what constitutes an emergency, so let’s take a look at some obvious, and less apparent, reasons to call your vet.
Did you know? Phoning the vet doesn’t always mean an expensive call-out fee. Your vet will be happy to provide advice over the phone if appropriate, and many will let you text a picture of the wound or area of concern so they can assess it for you. Remember, it’s always better to check if you have any doubts.
Cuts and wounds
It can be tricky to determine the severity of wounds. So, how can you deal with different types of cuts? Here’s a general guide…
Treat at home
Abrasions or grazes rarely warrant a call to your vet, and can usually be taken care of at home. Keep them clean and open to the air and they tend to heal quite quickly on their own.
Vet call-out as an emergency
Punctures are never a wound type that you can look after by yourself. As soon as you find it, call your vet because they carry a high infection risk. Check whether your horse has had a tetanus vaccination and apply pressure to stop any bleeding until the vet arrives.
Vet call-out for a work up
New swellings or lumps can indicate internal issues that you can’t pinpoint from outside the body. In this case it’s worth giving your vet a ring, particularly if it occurs over a joint, as treatment can be tricky.
Check out our handy guide on when to call in the cavalry in October Horse&Rider, on sale 22 August.