Vet’s haynet warning as stuck horse shattered leg

  • A vet has issued a warning to owners about the use of large-holed haynets after seeing an increase in horses getting stuck in them, two years after a horse had to be put down when he shattered his leg.

    Emily Westwood of Pocket Nook Equine Vets attended a case in 2022 where a groom had arrived at a stable early one morning to discover a gelding with a front leg caught in his haynet. The groom had cut him free, but he had sustained catastrophic injuries.

    “When I arrived the horse wasn’t weight-bearing, and he had cut his face and lip open,” Emily told H&H.

    The gelding was sedated and given pain relief, and an X-ray was taken.

    “The radius had dislocated completely from the knee and shattered into pieces and we had to put him down there in the stable,” said Emily.

    “The haynet was tied high up, but it was a large-holed haynet. We’re not sure if he had reared up and become stuck overnight.

    “Everyone was so upset, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer horse. I cried all the way home that day, and as soon as I got home I went into my haybarn and removed all the large-holed haynets.”

    Emily has spoken out about the case after seeing an increase in injuries involving large-holed haynets in the past six months.

    “We’ve seen about one horse a month get stuck, and in one bad case the horse had cut through between his check ligament and tendon. We were able to stitch it back together; the horse was very lucky as the haynet had been like cheese wire through his leg,” said Emily.

    “I’m not sure if we’ve seen the increase because it was so wet and horses have been in longer and sometimes it’s a boredom thing, or when they run out of hay and start pawing.”

    Emily recommends that owners consider using a small-holed haynet – or feed from the floor.

    “I don’t recommend haynets at all for youngsters, but if you are going to use a haynet then I recommend using a small-holed one, and make sure it’s tied up high. There’s arguments for and against that, because obviously when you think of horses in the wild it’s not a natural position [for grazing],” she said.

    “There’s no one set rule for everything, but where owners can and it’s doable then try to leave hay on the floor. I think sometimes it comes down to a cost and cleanliness thing, because owners say if they leave hay on the floor it will just get dragged around the stable.”

    Emily added that she has seen horses become stuck in corner mangers too.

    “We all know horses can become involved in situations, and they just don’t seem to get away with it very lightly because they’re such big animals. Where we can take precautions it’s worth doing. If it helps just one horse then I feel that the horse who lost his life has managed to help someone else,” she said.

    ● What is your preferred way of feeding hay? Let us know your thoughts at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for the chance for your letter to appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine

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