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


Wound to Back


Wounds to the back usually occur from saddle trauma, or when a horse runs under a tree branch or sustains a bite from another horse. They can occasionally result from a fall.

The ability to drain away excess wound discharge is a critical part of wound healing. Drainage is often difficult for back wounds because of their orientation at the top of the horse. Due to this, wound drainage tends to pool, leading to other problems.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you are concerned by the size and severity of the wound.
    • 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

Regardless, contact your vet to discuss the injury. In most cases, these wounds should receive prompt veterinary attention and be repaired, if possible. Talk to your vet about whether or not to begin flushing or cleaning the wound prior to their exam.

What Not To Do

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

your vet's role

Surgical repair allows dead space to be filled via suturing, and drains to be placed to facilitate drainage. Your vet assesses each wound on its own merits to determine the options. Fresh wounds with large flaps of skin are often repaired. Older wounds without free tissue to cover them may be best left open.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this wound?
  • When do you think the wound occurred?
  • Can you send me a photo?
  • Describe the wound to me in detail?
  • Does the wound appear fresh to you?
  • Is the horse's attitude and appetite normal?
  • Can you detect swelling or heat in the area?
  • Are there wounds elsewhere?
  • Do you know how the wound occurred?

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP