Open Wounds

I've been involved with horses all my life, yet I'm continually amazed at how little I know about them. And, I'm not alone; it seems like everyone's just stumbling around trying to figure out the best way to re-inventI've been involved with horses all my life, yet I'm continually amazed at how little I know about them. And, I'm not alone; it seems like everyone's just stumbling around trying to figure out the best way to re-invent

Story originally posted by: Horse Talk – Plain & SimpleToby Raymond

I’ve been involved with horses all my life, yet I’m continually amazed at how little I know about them. And, I’m not alone; it seems like everyone’s just stumbling around trying to figure out the best way to re-invent the wheel for an animal that has us beat by millions of years.

I mean, you’d think an industry that has an impact of $101.5 billion on the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with a hefty chunk of that going into new technologies on everything from cloning to stirrups, would have someone in it who could come up with a "one size fits all" handbook; something we would actually follow, or at least not argue about. Ah, but when it comes right down to it, we’re searching for answers in a world that’s steeped in folklore, so it’s no wonder we find it hard to come to terms on even the smallest point. But, sometimes I wonder, with all our good intentions, do we do more harm than good?

Like take the other day, for instance; my friend noticed that her horse had an open wound above his tail when she brought him in from the pasture (we all know how that goes; put a horse in a 1,000 acre field with a sharp stick at the farthest corner, and not only will he find it, he will impale himself). Anyway, the wound didn’t seem serious enough to call the vet, so she did what she’s always done, she cleaned it and then applied povidone iodine antiseptic solution. Hhhmmm, I’d heard that wasn’t such a good idea, but since there are as many opinions as there are ways to ride a horse, I decided to check with Dr. Patricia Provost, VMD, DACVS, Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine to be sure and for futures, unfortunately.

Wounds Described:

* Partial thickness wounds
• Caused by a sharp or jagged object
• Do not penetrate through all layers of the skin
• Cut edges stay close together
• Bleeding is usually controlled easily

* Full thickness wounds
• Object cuts through all layers of the skin and may also penetrate the deeper underlying tissue
• The skin edges will often gape open
• Bleeding is often quite substantial

* Puncture Wounds

* Commonly caused by a stake or nail
• Generally do not create much blood flow, unless a major blood vessel is punctured

* Abrasions
• Usually involves only the skin and hair
• Typically caused by friction i.e., a rope burn

Treatment: Contact your veterinarian if the situation involves eyes, muscles, bone, or is located over a tendon sheath or joint, or, the horse is lame on the injured limb, has a fever, or if the wound is likely to have penetrated the chest or abdomen

* Step one is to control the bleeding
• Apply steady pressure with a clean bandage or towel for at least five minutes
• If blood is spurting from the wound before pressure is applied, or if after several minutes the blood is soaking through the pressure bandage, call your veterinarian

* Once the bleeding has subsided, the wound needs to be cleaned
• Hose it with a moderate flow of water to flush out the dirt and debris
• Use a clean wet cloth for wounds on the face
• When the wound has been cleaned, assess the damage
• If the skin edges are separated, it may be necessary to have the wound sutured

Do not remove the bandage to clean if the bleeding is severe enough for you to have called your veterinarian – just wait for his/her arrival

Do not apply antiseptics, detergents, creams or powders as they interfere with healing; however, a mild antibiotic ointment may be applied to prevent desiccation (drying out)

And remember, if your horse does not have a current tetanus vaccine (within the year), contact your veterinarian to get a booster shot to avoid the risk of tetanus

There it is in black and white; another judgment rendered. Am I going to tell my friend about my findings; sure, but is she going to change her ways? Now, that’s a question… and a story for another day.

Toby Raymond has had a long involvement with horses. She’s done everything from grooming trotters to galloping racehorses to exercising polo ponies to working with vets at tracks up and down the east coast. She also attended Morvan Park Equestrian Institute in Leesburg, Virginia, after which she went on to show hunter/jumpers.

Now, a student of dressage and a foster care provider for horses off the track through the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER New England), Toby has combined her equestrian background with a 17-year career in the advertising industry to form TLR & ASSOCIATES, a creative writing resource for equine related businesses.

Toby can be reached at: 802.824.6466 waytogo@sover.net