Factsheets

Horses


Overview
Horses are part of an ever growing industry, with over 600,000 horses in the UK, 1.4 million riders and 5 million people with an active interest in the equine industry*. Most people acquire a horse out of choice, so if you make this decision you should think carefully before going ahead. A horse needs lots of love and care, including regular worming, vaccinations and dental care. Owning a horse is time consuming and can be costly; not only will you will need to consider where you will keep your horse, you must also consider the ongoing costs of owning a horse which include accommodation, bedding, feed and healthcare.

In the unlikely event that your horse goes missing it is going to be very difficult for anyone to know who it belongs to, unless your horse carries some form of permanent identification. It is wise to get your horse microchipped or freezemarked, this will avoid heartache in the long run, should your horse go missing or is stolen.

Horses are herd animals, and thrive on being together with other horses. Don’t forget that your horse will need somewhere to graze, a stable for warmth in the winter time, a constant supply of water, feeding daily and regular exercise. It can cost hundreds of pounds a month to care for a horse, including accommodation, food, veterinary care and insurance; there will be other costs, including buying tack and rugs and extra livery charges when you go on holiday.

Horses can live into their thirties, over this time your horse will need lots of care and attention. Being able to provide all of this will ensure you and your horse make the most of your time together.

* Research conducted in 2004 by the Henley Centre for DEFRA and the British Horse Industry Confederation.

Proud flesh

Wounds should be treated as soon as possible because untreated wounds are more likely to become infected or develop excessive proud flesh, preventing wound healing.

What is proud flesh?

Proud flesh (granulation tissue) forms when an excessive amount of new tissue is produced when a wound is healing. Proud flesh usually occurs when the skin starts to heal itself; granulation tissue forms over the wound followed by the growth of skin over the granulation tissue.

When a wound begins to heal, the new tissue is very fragile. If the wound is located near a joint where there is a lot of motion, the fragile new tissue tends to break down and rebuilds several times before the wound heals completely. In some cases, proud flesh can impede the healing process.

It is common in leg lacerations, which is one of the most common conditions that vets see in horses.

How can I prevent proud flesh from developing?

Wounds should be treated as soon as possible because untreated wounds are more likely to become infected or develop proud flesh.

The main way of preventing proud flesh from forming is to ensure the prompt suturing of a wound; if your horse is injured, make sure you call your vet as soon as possible so any wounds can be closed immediately, or as soon as possible after the injury has occurred. When closure of a wound is delayed, this is when proud flesh can become a problem.

It is important to limit the motion of the area of the wound as much as possible, usually by bandaging or using a cast (common on the lower limb). Pressure bandaging can also help prevent proud flesh formation; however, pressure bandages can be potentially harmful if not applied correctly, so if you are unsure how to do this, you should ask your vet first.

Wounds should be covered with a non-stick sterile pad and a soft gauze bandage which can then be covered with a thick cotton bandage to prevent contamination from bedding and other dirt.

Can proud flesh be treated?

The treatment of wounds with proud flesh usually depends on the extent of the overgrowth. If proud flesh is detected early, its progression can be stopped by applying special wound powders, allowing normal healing to continue. More often, however, excessive proud flesh is not detected immediately and must be surgically removed by your vet to permit proper healing. With proper care, most wounds can then heal with little or no scarring.

Large wounds may require skin grafts to aid the healing process, decrease scar tissue and help with a better cosmetic appearance in the long term.