Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Abrasion or Scrape on Lower Limb or Leg

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If severe lameness accompanies this sign.

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • If you do not notice lameness.

Due to the location of several vital structures of the lower limb, any injury to this area should always raise concern.

Superficial abrasions or scrapes to the lower limb commonly occur when horses catch a limb in a fence or rope, contacts their limb with another limb or foot, trips or falls, or is injured by another horse. We hope that superficial abrasions only involve the loss of hair and skin with minimal involvement of the underlying bone or tissues. Anything that penetrates deeper may be considered a wound or laceration and has the potential to involve joints and tendon sheaths.

Lameness is a key indicator of severity. If your horse is lame at the walk, your role depends on how you want to manage the risk. There are critical and fragile structures right under the skin in the lower limb. If the injury is serious, early treatment could make a big difference to long term prognosis.

Some horses will be very lame for 15 minutes after injury but then quickly improve.

WHAT TO DO

At minimum, you should describe any lower limb injury to your vet and have them help you decide whether your horse should be seen.

You can assess lameness at the walk and trot, and get a sense of the degree of swelling and pain at the site. The specific location of the abrasion may or may not give a clue to the nature of further injuries. In general, abrasions to the front of the limb should be considered less concerning than abrasions to the rear of the limb. Treatment with ice or cold water may help reduce swelling and pain.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will assess the area for severity of injury and assess for lameness. A lameness exam can quickly give an indication of whether or not there has been significant injury to an important structure.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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