Hematomas in Horses

Q. What exactly happens the minute after the direct trauma (like a kick or a collision)? How does the blood pool? Are there many complications?

Samantha Martin, Alberta, Canada

A. It’s hard to make generalized statements about how to treat hematomas or bruises because there are so many variations in location and seriousness. Horses often get bruised by running into things, being kicked by another horse, falling down when running and bucking, etc. It’s not unusual to suddenly discover your horse has a large, soft lump on some part of his body. The most common areas are the hindquarters, chest, or along the ribs. The skin might not be damaged, but the injured tissues underneath can bleed or ooze serum, creating a large "balloon" under the skin. The damaged blood vessels usually don’t stop bleeding until there is enough pressure from the fluid accumulation to halt the bleeding and allow the blood to clot.

About the Author

Claude Ragle, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ABVP

Claude Ragle, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ABVP, is an associate professor of equine surgery at Washington State University.

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