First of all, one has to determine if the skin laceration is full thickness. Some wounds are only partial thickness and in these cases, suturing is unnecessary. Next, one needs to determine if the wound in question is “new” or “old”. Wounds that are more than 6-12 hours old can be more difficult to close due to swelling and thickened edges. Older wounds are also more likely to be contaminated and possibly even infected which therefore will often do better if they are left open to heal. This will allow daily cleaning of the affected area and proper drainage. In some cases, a wound can also be too wide, meaning the edges cannot be pulled together, and therefore suturing becomes difficult.
The location of the laceration can also help one decide on whether or not to suture. For example, we try and repair all eyelid lacerations due to the important role of the eyelid margins. When in doubt, it is always safest to have your veterinarian assess your horse’s cut. Just because your horse has a cut, this does not always mean that it will need to be sutured. It is important to know that sometimes what appears to be a simple “break in the skin” can actually be a much more serious problem where early detection becomes important.