Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Wound or Laceration to Lower Limb Not Involving Critical Structures

Wounds to the lower limb are among the most common equine veterinary emergencies. In the equine limb, there is no muscle covering from the carpus and hock to the ground. There are multiple joints, tendon sheaths, tendons, ligaments, the coronet band and the hoof wall, and the myriad of delicate structures that comprise those.

So it is a nice surprise when a lower limb wound actually does not involve one or more of these important structures.

However, even without the involvement of these important structures, uncomplicated lower limb injuries generally do not heal as well as wounds to other parts of the body. There is comparatively limited blood supply to this area, and there is little extra tissue that can move to cover a defect created by a wound (wound contraction).

For all of these reasons, lower limb wounds in the horse require special consideration, monitoring and care. An important point to remember is that horses with uncomplicated limb wounds should not be visibly lame at the walk for more than a day or two.


  • What structures does this wound involve?
  • Should I expect to see lameness, given the nature of the wound?
  • What should I do if during the healing process, my horse becomes more lame?
  • What diagnostics give confidence that this wound does not involve important structures of the limb?

    All of the husbandry that is recommended for safe housing of horses will reduce the incidence of wounds of all types.

    Shipping boots can decrease the incidence of lower limb injuries while trailering. Protective boots and polo wraps can reduce the likelihood of injury to the lower limbs during work. Over reaching is reduced by regular and appropriate hoof care.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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