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


Wound to Lower Neck


Wounds to the neck can range from minor to fatal. The severity relates to the structures involved. In the lower third of the neck is the jugular groove, through which runs the jugular vein, carotid artery and some very important nerves. At the underline of the neck is the windpipe (trachea) and esophagus. If any of these critical structures are involved in a wound, it could be life-threatening.

The spinal column runs parallel to and just above this, and right under the mane is the nuchal ligament, a large ligament that is involved in supporting the head.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If there is excessive bleeding.
    • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
    • If the wound occurred within the last 24 hours.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
    • If the wound occurred over 24 hours ago.

your role


What To Do

If the wound is superficial, isn't bleeding much, and does not appear to affect your horse's stance or movement, you may be able to treat it on your own.

In contrast, a large wound to the jugular groove may sever large vessels and cause life-threatening bleeding. The involvement of important structures affect the prognosis. Certain wounds may benefit from surgical repair and, generally, there is a 24-hour window of time in which that is an option.

If you have any doubt about the severity of the wound, contact your vet with your findings and concerns. If there is significant bleeding from a neck wound, apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding until your vet arrives.

What Not To Do

Do not apply antibiotic products to the injury unless advised to do so by your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will evaluate the injury and determine whether repair (suturing), is needed. If vital structures are involved, other specific diagnostics and treatments may be necessary.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Where is the wound located and what does it look like?
  • Can you send a photo?
  • How severe does the bleeding seem?
  • Are you able to stop or slow the bleeding with pressure?
  • When did you first notice the wound?
  • When do you think the wound occurred?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
Less Common
more treatments

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP