Winter Slip Injuries For Horses: Some Serious, Some Less So

Ice, snow, and muddy, slick surfaces can cause horses to slip and fall during the winter. The type of fall can help determine potential injuries, each of which requires different management strategies. 

A horse that falls and splits his hind legs is at risk for pulled groin muscles. Most horses with pulled groins are lame and don’t want to move. They may walk crookedly or with tiny steps. Rest, anti-inflammatories, and a gradual reintroduction to exercise normally ensures a horse recovers without complication. 

A horse that splits his front legs when he falls may suffer from radial nerve paralysis; a horse with this injury will be unable to step forward, making it look like the leg is broken. Mild nerve paralysis can resolve within days with vet-administered anti-inflammatories and DMSO. More severe cases may take months to resolve. 

Any horse that falls may see the development of bruises on his body. Cold therapy can limit swelling initially, and heat applied later can encourage circulation and removal of cellular debris. 

A horse with a head injury may have fallen hard or may have fallen into a fence or other immobile structure. He may be disoriented, blind, or unable to stand. A horse with a suspected head injury should not be moved and a vet should be called immediately. His prognosis is guarded. 

Read more at EQUUS magazine

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