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


Wound to Front of Lower Limb or Leg


The structures on the front (dorsal) part of the lower limb are not as critical to the weight bearing function of the limb as those in the back of the limb. For this reason, wounds to this area, even if they involve the extensor tendons, are usually not as likely to cause permanent lameness. On the other hand, if the extensor tendons are completely cut by the wound, the fetlock may knuckle over until function is regained.

The absence or presence of lameness is a helpful indicator of severity. Keep in mind, however, that lameness may not be immediately obvious, especially with joint wounds and tendon sheath wounds.

  • 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 you notice lameness in addition to this sign.
    • If the wound occurred within the last 24 hours.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.
    • If the wound occurred over 24 hours ago.

your role


What To Do

Lower limb wounds should almost always be evaluated by your vet. If it will be long before your vet will arrive and your horse is not lame, ask them if you should clean and bandage the wound in a light bandage to protect it until they can examine it. Take a photo of the wound and share it with your vet. Assess the wound, paying particular attention to swelling, drainage, and degree of lameness.

What Not To Do

Do not apply any antibiotic products to the injury, unless advised to do so by your vet. Do not treat wounds that are causing lameness without examination by a vet.

your vet's role

Your vet may choose to repair wounds in this area, or leave them to heal as open wounds. Factors they may consider include your desire for the most cosmetic outcome, the freshness of the wound and the structures that are involved.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Is the horse limping or lame?
  • When do you think the wound occurred?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Is the horse folding or rolling over on the fetlock when he walks?
  • If the horse is lame, how lame?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP