I recently had a scary experience when my horse got a cut on her leg that hit an artery. She had just come in from the field when I saw it – blood was gushing out and turning the barn floor into a bright red puddle in no time. I had no idea how long ago the cut had occurred and went into panic mode. I ran into the house to get some bandages and started wrapping the leg, but the blood kept coming. I called my vet, but it was the weekend and there was no answer. I put a help message on a local horse Facebook page, and within a few minutes a friend who had seen the post came over with her first aid kit and together we were able to put enough pressure and a wrap on the wound to slow the bleeding. In the meantime I had called another vet, but it took an hour for her to arrive, treat the wound and stitch it up.
The most important lesson from that incidence is that we need to have a first aid kit in our barn and with us on the trails, and in that kit should be pads and wraps that can stop or slow bleeding. Have plenty of it since there will be a lot of blood flow when an artery is hit. A pair of scissors comes in handy too to cut wraps with. There is always a lag time before the vet can be on the scene, and we can help to bridge that time gap and stop the bleeding until professional help arrives.
Having a number of close-by friends’ phone numbers at one’s fingertips also helps since I found it hard to do the pressure wrap on my own (but it can be done). Also: have more than on vet’s phone number at hand and just move down the list if they do not answer. This injury may not have been life threatening, but there sure are occasions when a very fast response is of the essence.
Another lesson is to give the horse pain medication early. At first my mare had apparently not felt any pain because she was just munching away on her hay as if nothing was wrong, but when the bleeding had stopped and we were waiting for the vet to arrive, she became quite upset, curled her lips and started pawing. I had some Butte on hand and tried to give it to her, but she refused to eat or drink anything at that point. It was just too late, and we had to wait until the vet gave her a shot for the pain to subside.
Luckily my mare is doing great and we got away mainly with a huge amount of fright. Next time I will be better prepared!
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