New campaign asks horse owners to help researchers improve care of wounds

Horse owners in the UK are being invited to take part in a new project to help improve the management of the skin and flesh wounds that are a common type of emergency in horses.

Researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham have teamed up with the equine charity, The British Horse Society , to launch the Equine Wound Project online today, Monday 1stOctober 2018.

Wounds are a common emergency problem in the horse, but at present there is no clear guidance available for owners about which types need to be treated by a vet, how long different wounds take to heal, or if the horse will return to normal work. It can be very difficult for owners to make an informed decision about what to do, particularly at a time when they may be feeling distressed about their horse’s wellbeing.

The Equine Wound Project is asking horse owners to submit information, including photos, about their horse’s initial wound, as well as the subsequent assessment, treatment process and healing outcome. Information is submitted to the University where veterinary researchers want to learn about any type of equine wound regardless of size and whether it has been treated by a vet, so they can capture information on a wide range of injuries.

The BHS and the University’s equine veterinary team envisage that the analysis from this research will result in new, freely-accessible educational resources to support decision-making, helping to improve owners’ recognition and care of wounds.

Professor Gary England, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham, and one of the research project supervisors, said: “The University and the British Horse Society have had a very successful previous collaboration through the REACT colic campaign. We are delighted to be working together again on this new initiative, working closely with horse owners to gather new evidence on wounds and wound healing in the horse, which we plan to use to develop similar high-quality educational resources.”

Emmeline Hannelly, BHS Welfare Education Manager said: “We are very pleased to support the University of Nottingham with this new research project. We understand it can be an anxious time for horse owners when their horse is injured, and we want to hear from them no matter how small the wound may be. Owners sometimes have to deal with extremely variable wounds, and decisions about how to treat and what to apply to the wound can be worrying, as some treatments may be detrimental to healing.”

This new research is designed to provide evidence-based answers to questions such as:

  • Should you call a vet?
  • What are the risks of complications with wound healing?
  • How long will it take to heal?
  • How long will the horse be off work?
  • What will the scar look like once it has healed?

Masters student, Richard Birnie, who will be working on the project for the next 12 months said:

"During my third-year research project dissertation on equine wounds, I could see that this is a research area that urgently requires more focused studies. Wounds have been described as the second most commonly treated condition in equine practice, so I found the significant lack of evidence-based data surprising. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to conduct a year-long study on equine wounds working closely with The BHS and horse owners. Valuable data collected could be the beginnings of important findings that could have widespread impacts on how both vets and owners manage and treat wounds in the future, ultimately aiming to improve the health and welfare of horses."

The Equine Wound Project website can be found at

Horse owners who contribute to the project website have the chance to enter a free prize draw with a fantastic range of prizes on offer throughout the year.