As an owner, when your horse requires urgent veterinary attention, it can be a worrying time. There are a number of emergency situations that require immediate attention from a vet. These include, amongst others, colic, haemorrhaging (profuse bleeding), collapse, dystocia (difficulty foaling) and fractures.  We’ve put together some useful information and tips to help make the process as stress-free as possible when faced with an equine emergency.

Have your vet’s contact number in your phone

In the first instance, when faced with an equine emergency, it is important to try to remain as calm as possible. You should always have your vet’s phone number easily accessible and contact the practice immediately.

Our clients should call us on 01722 741188 or 07572 167343 and between 8am and 5pm from Monday to Friday you will get through to our trained administrative team. They will take all the relevant details about the situation, arrange to get a vet to you as soon as possible, and relay to you an estimated time of arrival together with any immediate care instructions.

Out of hours, you will be transferred to the vet on call who will advise you of the immediate actions you need to take and then get to you as quickly as possible. It is most important to follow the vet’s advice; all situations are quite different and putting your safety first is a priority.


If you notice your horse is showing signs of colic, depending on the severity of the colic the clinical signs can vary. These can include (but are not limited to) rolling, sweating, pawing, flank watching, lying down and getting up, being disinterested in food, not passing faeces and appearing quiet. Contact the vet immediately and explain the specific signs you are seeing. You should remove any food or water from the horse if it is stabled and  you should only walk your horse if it’s safe to do so. It is important that you don’t risk being injured yourself.


A wound that is haemorrhaging can be very serious. Again, always ensure you follow the vet’s advice. You can help with stemming the bleeding, if it’s safe to do so, until the vet arrives. If the wound is on a limb, applying a bandage (clean Gamgee or a Fibregee pad and a stable bandage would be suitable) over the wound can help with slowing down the bleeding. For wounds that are difficult to bandage due to their location, you can apply direct pressure over the wound, ideally using thick Gamgee or another type of clean dressing. Again, all situations are quite different and following the vet’s advice is key.


A collapsed horse can be a very worrying situation for all involved. If possible, try and keep the area around the horse as quiet and calm as possible. Take care not to get in between the horse and a stable/fence. Be mindful of the horse’s legs as they may suddenly start to move, or the horse may try to get up.


A mare with dystocia (difficulty giving birth) requires prompt action., If  your mare is having trouble foaling (for example a ‘red bag’ delivery), or there looks to be abnormal presentation of the foal, call the vet at once. Explain what you can see and follow the vet’s advice carefully.


If you believe your horse may have a fracture, open or closed, you should try to immobilise the horse as best you can. Keep the horse as quiet as possible and try to avoid any excitement around the horse while waiting for the vet.


What three Words (W3W) is an app that is available on Apple or Android devices and is very useful  for pinpointing your exact location. W3W divides every area into a 3 metre square and each square has 3 unique words. By using W3W, our vets will be able to accurately locate you and your horse in an emergency. For example, the W3W for Pinkham Equine Vets is minute.grub.cabinet.

Do you have a plan in place, if your horse requires referral to an equine hospital?

In some emergencies your horse may need to be referred to an equine hospital for specialist treatment, surgery or care.  It is helpful for our vets if you have given prior consideration to whether this is a practical option, so that we can take prompt action without delay, should a referral be needed.