What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Bleeding from Upper Limb or Leg

Control Bleeding on Lower Limb with Pressure Bandage


There are very large vessels on the inside of the upper front and hind limb that can bleed severely when cut. The most common reason for lacerations in this area (in my experience) are fence related injuries and kicks from other horses to the inside of the fore and hind limbs, which are more common than one might expect.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
    • If bleeding seems excessive to you.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you are convinced that the injury is minor and you notice no lameness or other problem.

your role


What To Do

As with any bleeding vessel, direct focal pressure on the vessel will stop or slow hemorrhage. Close to the hock or carpus, a pressure bandage similar to that illustrated for lower limb hemorrhage, wrapped tightly around the wound with a wad of gauze directly on the bleeding vessel will work. High in the armpit of the front limb or groin of the hind limb, packing of a towel into the wound, and manual pressure may be necessary until your vet arrives.

What Not To Do

Do not treat the wound with ointments or other topicals without first consulting with your vet. Some delay healing.

your vet's role

Your vet will likely seek to control bleeding through pressure or ligation (tying off of a vessel) and then determine whether other important structures are involved. Fracture of the radius (front) or tibia (hind) is usually accompanied by severe bleeding and inability to bear weight.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Are you able to stop or slow the bleeding with pressure?
  • Where does the bleeding seem to be coming from?
  • How much bleeding is there?
  • Can the horse bear weight on all the limbs and walk forward fairly normally?
  • Does the horse appear to be in distress?
  • How aggressively do you want to handle this? We may have other options for repair.
  • When was the horse last given a tetanus vaccination?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Can you send a photo?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP