Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Control Bleeding Anywhere, With Pressure

Your horse is bleeding, perhaps bleeding badly. Being able to calmly, quickly and confidently stop or slow bleeding (hemorrhage), anywhere on your horse’s body is a very important skill in an emergency. With focused pressure, you can usually slow or stop the outpouring of blood.

All but the largest vessels will stop bleeding with some time and correct treatment, before a horse suffers life threatening blood loss. Horses can lose several gallons of blood before being in danger of shock.

Procedure

Halter your horse. With an assistant at the head of your horse, try to determine precisely where the blood is coming from. Test your hunch by pressing your finger or several fingers with a single piece of gauze into the area. Are you able to stop or slow the bleeding? If not, you must relocate your fingers until you find the source.

Once you have found the source, place a 2” wad of gauze directly on the wound and using the heel of your hand, force it into the wound, leaning your body weight into it to maintain adequate pressure. If the blood is coming from a very deep hole, cover the skin wound with your hand or a bandage to seal it and create pressure as blood fills it.

If blood is dripping through the gauze or towel, then add a second layer with another 2" of gauze directly over the top. This mechanically increases the pressure on the wound. When possible, add ice application between gauze or towel layers.

Depending on the location of the bleeding, you may be able to wrap a pressure bandage around the neck or other parts of the body, to hold the gauze in place. If this is not possible, keep direct pressure on the gauze until your vet arrives or the bleeding slows considerably or stops.

Tips for safety & Success

Successful application of this skill is all about focused pressure. Use a headlight to help you visualize the bleeding point. Keep your horse as tranquil as possible. Be calm and move quickly but not frantically.

Move your horse to an area that you think will make them calm, such as their stall. If you are out on the trail or away from the stable, encourage your horse to stand quietly as you work by keeping a buddy horse close by.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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