Equine vets and vet techs list the most preventable things they see!


It’s been a bit since I’ve worked all day, every day, with horses. They are still very much in my life, but sometimes it’s good to talk to some horse pros to see what’s going on in their worlds. I recently asked 5 equine vets and vet techs one question – What do you notice daily that are preventable horse accidents?  And boy howdy – lots of things to share.


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This is what I heard, in no particular order:


  • Doorways and gates should not have any protruding parts. Horses often get scraped by screw eyes, hinges, stray nails, etc. as they move through openings.


  • This brought up another barn management topic – loose fence boards. When horses rub their butts on fencing, their body weight can bow boards which can loosen nails/screws. This can also pop boards loose. So – protruding nails mean more scrapes, and popped boards can end up between ribs. I saw a picture of a worst-case scenario – a horse stuck on a fence with the board in between two ribs. BLECH.


rusty nails poking out of a board

The board on the right is popped – revealing some tetanus and wound-producing nails.


  • Not securing the feed room. Horses that break into feed rooms often have colic and/or laminitis. Do what you need to do to keep Houdini horses out. This goes for hay, too, as a sudden hay buffet, especially of a different type, can cause the same problems.  


  • Hay twine in fields. So this brought up lots of stories about baling twine or hay net pieces in fields. I’ll summarize. “Twine around pasterns is BAD.”


pile of orange baling twine


  • Which led to the story exchange about street nails and metal bits impaling horses in the field. The earth can spit stuff up, tractors can drop things, naughty goblins are real, things fall out of fences, and there are LOTS of ways for horse-impaling things to end up in your fields.


  • Street nails happen when horses step on screws or metal bits or nails; they can also stall kick their way into a street nail. One particular story involved a horse that really liked to redecorate his stall with his hooves, and twice he impaled his hoof on a nail he kicked loose.


  • Overweight horses. There was a lot of head shaking on this one – too many laminitis cases and lamenesses that are not helped by a horse’s extra pounds. The solution to this requires much work on your part – and it can take a long time – and it’s necessary.  And don’t even get a vet started about overweight horses not wearing grazing muzzles. 


very fat pony on short pasture grass



  • This one came up a lot when talking about colics – no clean water or just no water in general. Lots of possibilities here – infrequent filling of water, not cleaning buckets enough, not removing ice chunks after you break them up, and auto waterers breaking without noticing.


  • And, of course, the reason vets are often confused with plastic surgeons. The ol’ snap or bucket on the eyelid or nostril. Turn the snap opening away from your horse!


double ended snap towards wall

Turn the snappy part away from your horse!


We also all agreed on one thing – you can do a lot to help reduce the chances your horse will hurt himself. But they are still horses and will usually prove us wrong at some point. With a vet bill. Oh, joy.


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