In many cases, horses that have had surgery will be discharged with specific instructions for post-operative care. You may need to confine your horse to a box stall, hand walk them several times daily or change their diet. You may need to give your horse certain medications or treatments. Expect to get detailed instructions from your vet, along with a description of what to expect and what to watch for.
Your vet may ask you to monitor a surgical site, looking for swelling, drainage or discharge, or look for lameness. The better job you can do in following your vet’s directions and communicating about the status of your horse, the better.
If possible, talk to your vet about the typical postoperative care that will needed for your horse before they undergo the surgery. You may need to reorganize your stable, rearrange horses, or purchase portable panels to create a stall.
If your horse needs to be hand-walked several times daily and you cannot perform this task yourself, ensure that your staff or other qualified assistants clearly understand what is needed. If your vet has asked you to evaluate a suture line or healing wound, make sure that you understand what to look for and call them with any questions or concerns. Same goes for removing and replacing a bandage.
Tips for safety & Success
If you do not have the facilities or staff that can properly care for your horse for the recuperative period following surgery, talk to your vet about keeping them at the equine hospital longer.
It is always best to take a careful and conservative approach to ensure the long-term success of surgery. This is particularly true if your horse resents confinement or is difficult to medicate or treat.
When the immediate postoperative period is over, you will need to try to evaluate your horse following the surgery. Was the surgery effective? When in doubt, communicate with your vet.
Helpful terms & topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health