The doctor on call at Equine Medical Service was requested to examine and treat a sixteen-year-old gelding that received trauma to his chest after bolting and running through a barbed wire fence. The horse had a very large amount of tissue damage from going through the fence. This required several hours of time and effort to surgically de-bride the dead and dying tissue and to clean all the exposed tissue, all to facilitate the best healing environment possible. The large wounds were then sutured and a special bandage made for the horse to protect the suture lines. The horse was then placed on oral antibiotics and pain/inflammation reducing drugs. Within several months of recuperation the wounds have healed and the horse can be ridden without any evidence of lameness.
A laceration is an accidental full thickness cut through the skin. An abrasion is a scrape that damages the skin but does not penetrate the full thickness of the skin. To determine if a wound is an abrasion or a laceration, gently pull the wound edges apart. With a laceration, the underlying whitish connective tissue can be seen. In some circumstances, the veterinarian may choose not to suture a laceration: Small lacerations often heal without suturing.
Large wounds in heavily muscled areas. Large wounds in the pectoral, forearm and upper hind limb areas often pull apart after numerous sutures are used to close them. Though these wounds look very severe initially, they usually heal very well if left unsutured and kept clean. Healing of these open wounds takes weeks and usually results in minimal scarring and minimal or no gait abnormalities.
First Aid for Skin Wounds
As soon as possible after your horse sustains a skin wound, and before veterinary care is available, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to slow or stop any bleeding. There is no need to apply pressure if the wound is not bleeding. Gently clean the wound with mild antibacterial soap and water, and rinse well with clean water. If the wound is contaminated with dirt and hair, flush it using plain tap water. If possible, bandage the wound, preferably with clean bandage material, or otherwise with a clean cloth. Do not apply medication to the wound, such as iodine or peroxide. Apply fly repellent around but not directly on the wound, and keep flies away until the veterinarian arrives to treat the wound.