Vet’s gate warning after horse ‘ripped huge hole in her side’

  • A vet is warning owners to take extra care in gateways after a horse suffered a horrific injury.

    Thoroughbred BB “ripped a huge hole in her side” when she got stuck between the latch and the gate while trying to follow another horse out of her field near Liphook, Hampshire.

    The 15-year-old mare went backwards, trying to escape, and the latch “tore through her skin and muscle, creating a large open wound that exposed her ribs and chest cavity”, a spokesman for Liphook Equine Hospital said.

    Warning: very graphic image

    “A quick-thinking farrier who was on site applied a bandage to stem the bleeding and called Liphook Equine Hospital for help, as well as alerting BB’s owner who was driving home from work.”

    Liphook vet Ine Refseth sedated BB, then cleaned and stitched the wound, and used a belly band to protect it. She returned every few days, cleaning the wound, changing the dressing and monitoring healing, then debriding the area – removing dead tissue – when needed.

    After that, the wound was left open to allow natural healing, boosted by laser therapy. After three months’ box rest, BB was allowed back out in the field and has returned to ridden work.

    Ine said the wound was one of the worst she has ever seen.

    “BB had ripped a huge hole in her side that was big enough for me to fit my hand inside to palpate her ribs and check they hadn’t been damaged,” she said.

    “I’m really pleased with how the injury has healed and the scar is much smaller than I anticipated. There is a little bit of muscle wastage but, because the injury was behind where the girth sits, BB can still be ridden and should be able to return to full work.

    “Gates can cause horrible injuries and I would urge anyone who is riding or leading to make sure you have plenty of space between the horse and the latch. For paddocks, it’s a good idea to consider investing in safety gate latches that are designed to prevent injury.”

    The mare’s owner Gemma Stacey said she was “convinced her beloved horse wouldn’t survive”.

    “It was horrific,” she said. “There was a huge open wound in BB’s side with pieces of skin hanging off it. Thinking back to how bad the injury was, it’s incredible what an amazing recovery she has made.

    “I have Ine to thank as she did such an amazing job treating the wound, then dressing it regularly and removing all the damaged tissue when the wound broke down. She gave BB the best care possible and has put in a lot of hours to help her get better.

    “I am also very grateful to my farrier, Pete Gledhill, for his quick thinking as by covering the wound straight away he helped avoid it becoming contaminated.

    “I had no idea gates could cause such serious injuries, and now I’m really careful when leading horses through them.”

    Gemma had been intending to sell BB – she said the Household Cavalry was considering her – but she is now reconsidering her decision.

    “BB is a lovely, fun horse but I was looking to downsize as I have two other horses and three children and I don’t get a lot of time to myself,” she said. “I’m not sure I can part with her now.”

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