What To Do Until the Vet Arrives

The following recommendations are not meant to serve as treatment guidelines, but should help minimize damage until we can get to your farm.

  • First, know your horse's vital signs before you call.  The temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and capillary refill time help us determine the severity of the problem.  See our page on learning to take your horse's vital signs to learn how!
  • Once you call, please stay by your phone and off the line so we can easily reach you!
  • If you do not get a return call within 20 minutes, please call back.


My horse cut himself and is bleeding profusely:

  1. Apply a sterile (as much as possible) pressure bandage to control blood loss.   A pressure bandage includes a thick layer of cushion wrapped under firm pressure with vetwrap or other elastic wrap.
  2. If the laceration is contaminated with dirt, rinse it with a cold water from the hose before applying a pressure bandage.
  3. Do not put any ointments or hydrogen peroxide on the wound.


My horse is colicky and wants to go down and roll:

  1. Be Safe!  Your horse can unintentionally hurt you during one of these painful episodes.
  2. WALK the horse if possible.
  3. If the horse insists on going down, try to make the area safe and free of clutter.  The pasture or a large lot is best.  If he must stay in the stall clear everything out including the water and feed buckets.
  4. See our horse health article "Colic" for more information.


My horse's eye is swollen shut and running:

  1. Carefully rinse the eye with clear water or saline eye wash.
  2. Do not put any drugs or ointment into the eye until it has been examined for corneal damage.


My horse is extremely lame and cannot bear weight on one leg:

  1. Look for swelling, heat or evidence of a puncture wound.
  2. Extreme lamenesses can be caused by a hoof abscess or fracture, among other things.
  3. Cold water hosing can help to limit pain and swelling until the vet arrives.


My horse seems very painful on his front feet and doesn't want to move:

  1. Your horse may be foundering. This condition can happen after sudden over-eating (getting into the grain room), too much green grass, stress, trauma, overwork, or a metabolic disorder.
  2. Immediate care can help minimize the damage that is created by this disease. While you wait for the vet, stand the horse in sand or sawdust, and apply ice to his feet.


My horse has a nail in his foot:

  1. Do not remove the nail. The veterinarian will need to X-Ray the hoof to determine if the nail penetrated sensitive structures or the coffin bone.
  2. Keep the horse as quiet as possible to prevent him driving the nail further into his foot.


Foaling Emergencies:

A mare may act differently for several hours as she prepares for birth, but once in labor, the foal should be delivered fairly quickly (within 15 minutes).  Call if there is any delay.  You should first see one front foot, followed closely by the second.  Call if there is any variation of presentation.

Once the foal is born, there are several very important events that should occur in a timely fashion.  The 1-2-3 Rule provides an easy way to remeber them:

The foal should stand within 1 hour of birth.

The foal should nurse within 2 hours of birth.

The mare should pass the placenta within 3 hours.