Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Wound or Draining Tract Exam



A veterinarian carefully evaluates a new wound for severity and involvement of important anatomic structures. Subtle differences between wounds can mean the difference between uncomplicated healing and life-threatening complications.

Many factors go into a complete veterinary wound exam. Wound examination usually starts with evaluation of the whole horse with a physical exam. This is important because wounds may cause body-wide illness, lameness, infection of body cavities like joints or the abdomen or chest, or other serious problems. Wound examination usually also involves clipping of the hair around the wound and gentle cleansing of the wound.

Your vet’s wound examination may also include probing of the wound to determine depth, direction of penetration, and involvement of nearby anatomy and testing of nearby anatomic structures using imaging and special techniques to determine their involvement in the wound.

Reasons to UseRelated Observations

Bleeding from Pastern or Foot Area
Wound to Back of Lower Limb or Leg
Wound to Lower Limb or Leg, Generally
Wound to Coronary Band, Hairline of Hoof
Wound to Lower Neck
Drainage from Wound, Generally
Wound is Growing, Getting Larger
Puncture Wound, Anywhere on Body
Bleeding from Lower Limb or Leg
Wound or Puncture Smells
Proud Flesh, Healing Wound Developed Raised Red Tissue
Bleeding from Lower Neck or Jugular Groove Area
Wound to Upper Limb or Leg, Generally
Wound to Head or Face
Soft Swelling of Skin, Crackles when Pressed
Wound is Very Slow Healing or Not Healing
Drainage from Neck
Bleeding from Anywhere on Body, Severe
Bleeding from Upper Limb or Leg
Wound to Lip or Mouth
Wound is Coming Apart, Reopening after Sutured
Wound to Back
Wound at or near Carpus (Knee)
Limb Folds or Collapses when Bearing Weight
Wound or Injury to Withers
Wound or Cut to Tongue
Wound to Cheek with Drainage or Swelling & Odor
Knuckling Over or Rolling Over on a Fetlock
Wound to Front of Lower Limb or Leg
Drainage from Area below Ear
Wound to Chest
Wound, Open Sore Caused by Pressure from Bandage or Cast
Eyelid is Wounded or Cut
Rope Burn on Pastern or Lower Limb or Leg
Eye, Bleeding from Eye
Drainage from Site on Lower Limb or Leg
Drainage from Chest
Drainage from Under or Behind Jaw
Wound to Muzzle, Nose or Nostril
Wound to Sheath or Penis
Wound at or near Hock
Drainage from Poll or Neck behind Skull
Drainage from Heel or Pastern Area
Wound, Sore, Crust or Scab on Front of Fetlock
Wound to Ear
Foaling, Foal Foot has Torn Hole Into Mare's Rectum & is Trapped
Accident, Horse Tangled in Wire
Wound to Body, Neck or Back
Attacked by Dogs or other Predator (Foal or Adult)
Hoof Pulled Off, Loss of Entire Hoof Capsule
Biting at Wound
Other Animals Picking at Wound
Accident, Horse Impaled on Post
Accident, Horse Fell through Trailer Floor
Sores, Crusts or Scabs on Hock
Drainage from Site on Upper Limb or Leg
Sores Caused by Saddle, Tack Rubs
Drainage from Anal or Tail Base Area
Abrasion or Scrape, Anywhere on Body
Sores on a Down Horse


A careful wound examination gives your vet the ability to determine the best approach to treatment. It also yields valuable information needed to make a prognosis.


The status of a wound changes with time. Complications can occur after the initial exam that change the treatment plan and prognosis. Reassessment may be needed.

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


  • Is this a simple wound or are there complicating factors?
  • What diagnostics do you recommend in order to fully understand the severity of the wound?
  • Based on your diagnostics, what are the options for treating the wound?
  • Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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