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


Abrasion or Scrape on Upper Limb or Leg


Superficial abrasions or scrapes to this area that only involve the loss of hair and the top layer of skin are generally minor, and heal with minimal treatment. Lots of muscle covering found on the equine upper limb usually protects underlying bone and other critical structures like tendons and ligaments.

However, this is not always the case. Severe impact can still damage internal structures resulting in life-threatening injury with very little surface evidence. An example is a hairline fracture of an upper limb bone that could worsen if it was not detected and managed appropriately.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If there is severe lameness accompanying this sign.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice any lameness or have any other concern.
    • If there seems to be pain, swelling or lameness.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • If you do not notice lameness.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the affected area looking for swelling, heat or a pain response. Many horses will be mildly lame for 24 hours following a traumatic injury that causes superficial abrasion to the upper limb.

However, if the horse is very lame at the walk, consider this a veterinary emergency. Lameness or difficulty advancing the limb is an indication of a more serious injury. Keep in mind too that other disease processes can cause hair loss that might be confused with traumatic injury.

Treatment with ice or cold water may help reduce swelling and pain. Always rest a horse that might have sustained an injury until your vet recommends you return them to work. After an injury, it is always wise to be sure they trot sound before putting them back to work.

your vet's role

Your vet will assess the area for severity of injury and assess the horse for lameness. A lameness exam can quickly give an indication of whether or not there has been significant injury to an important structure.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Is there any swelling in the area?
  • Where on the limb is the injury?
  • Is the horse limping or lame?
  • If the horse is lame, how lame?
  • Have you given the horse any medications?
  • What do you think caused the injury?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP