This can be arrested with finger pressure or a well-padded, tightly applied bandage. The most important thing to remember is that horses can lose around 20% of their total blood volume before hypovolaemic (blood loss) shock develops. They have around 80ml per kg so a total volume of 40 litres in a 500kg horse. That means 8 litres can be lost. Think of how far 8 litres of paint spilt on the floor would spread. Wounds and especially penetration of any joints or tendon sheaths are likely to be the more serious issues once the bleeding has been arrested.
Rolling horses should be encouraged to stand and walked if safe to do so. This can prevent the horse injuring itself. Feed should be removed. Emergency attendance is warranted to provide pain relief, treat the underlying cause and to prevent deterioration or identify at an early stage if surgery is required. Early recognition increases survival rates where surgery becomes necessary.
Prepare ahead of time. Come to one of the Barn Equine Surgery’s client evenings, have supplies including clean bucket, antiseptic, cotton wool, gloves and navel treatment ready. Foaling should occur within 5 to 30 minutes of ‘waters’ breaking and if the mare stops making progress be prepared to examine the mare and if the muzzle and both feet are present you can pull one leg at a time. Soles should be down and if they are uppermost then either the foal is upside down or more likely coming backwards.
These may be due to dust allergies, similar to asthma. Get the horse out of the stable or barn and into the fresh air. The vet can administer drugs to open constricted airways or sedate and remove upper airway obstructions. Coughing and wheezing and extreme cases cyanosis (blue colouration of the mucous membranes) and collapse can occur with breathing difficulties.
Remove all feed. Massage gullet gently. Many cases resolve themselves whilst the vet is on the way but this is a distressing condition and can result in inhalation pneumonia if it goes on too long. Any horse can get choke especially if hungry or greedy with a tendency to bolt the food. However oral pain due to dental issues can result in food being incompletely chewed and this can predispose to choke. Routine dentistry is then preventative. Endoscopic examination with one of our cameras is indicated if choke is recurrent or does not resolve with treatment. The vet may give injections to relax the blocked gullet or oesophagus and pass a stomach tube and use fluids to soften and remove the blockage. An oral exam may be indicated. Nasal discharge of saliva and food, coughing and arching of the neck are typical signs of choke.
Azoturia / Tying-up / Myopathy (or sudden reluctance to move during or after exercise). Do not force the horse to walk. Keep the back and hindquarter muscles warm with rug or jacket to improve the blood supply. Arrange for a lorry or preferably a trailer to transport horse back to a stable if at all possible. The vet will provide pain relief and give medication and possibly fluids to improve the situation and try to protect the kidneys from the effects of myoglobin released into the blood stream from damaged muscles. Advice and sometimes further medication to prevent recurrence can be provided once the diagnosis and severity has been ascertained from blood samples tested in our lab.