Spurting blood indicates that an artery is most likely involved and calls for immediate action to stop the flow. On the other hand, dark blood oozing through the skin indicates that the bleeding is venous and not immediately life-threatening.
Traumatic injuries nearly always are accompanied by bleeding. In most cases, blood loss is minimal and constant pressure for several minutes will allow the blood to clot. However, if blood is gushing or if application of pressure does not stop the bleeding, a veterinarian should be called immediately.
What to do
When a horse is bleeding, the first consideration should be to get it to a safe place and keep the animal as calm as possible. People and other animals should be kept away. The wound should be bandaged securely and pressure applied to reduce the blood flow.
If the area is too large to be bandaged, a clean pad made from gauze or other clean fabric should be placed against the wound. If blood is squirting, a tourniquet may be necessary. This is often the case with leg injuries.
Call a vet immediately and get advice as to whether the tourniquet might cause harm. A tourniquet should be loosened every 15 to 30 minutes for a duration of approximately 5 minutes to allow blood to temporarily flow back into the limb.
If the wound is deep or near a vital structure, surgical repair by a veterinarian will be necessary once the bleeding is under control. If the wound is relatively minor, proper cleansing and disinfecting of the area accompanied by hair clipping where necessary and application of an appropriate bandage may be sufficient.