They are the signs no horse owner wants to see: trails of blood across stall or pasture, clumps of hair caught on a wire or nail, dangling skin flaps, unexpected lamenesses, or swollen body parts. Yet horses and wounds seem to find each other with distressing regularity. Wound outcome correlates with management approach, even from the beginning, so understanding wound types and the wound healing process and pursuing proper treatment are central to optimal healing.
Though wounds can, and do, occur on any part of the equine integument (covering)–skin, cornea, or hoof—this article will cover only wounds to the skin and underlying tissues.
Abrasions are partial thickness wounds (think road rash or a scraped knee). They can be large and become quite contaminated, but they do not fully penetrate all the layers of skin.
Puncture wounds result from penetration with foreign objects–commonly nails, tree branches, or pieces of wire. They are narrow in diameter relative to their depth. Usually, they bleed very little and for that reason smaller punctures might not be noticeable immediately.
Lacerations are full-thickness wounds that transect the skin completely and often extend into underlying tissues.
Sharp or pointed foreign objects or ragged edges create most of these wounds, but blunt trauma (kicking, falling on, or running into a solid object), entrapment (catching a body part between objects such as rope, wire, or panels), and penetr