How to Draw a Horse's Blood

Two Parts:Taking the BloodKnowing What to Do Next

Blood collection is an essential skill for veterinary students, veterinarians, horse personnel, and veterinary assistants. The domesticated horse (owing to its large anatomy) is one of the easiest species to collect blood samples from, as the jugular vein has a diameter that is about the same size as your thumb.

Part 1
Taking the Blood

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    Prepare the horse. Make sure that the horse is properly restrained and is in a docile temperament before proceeding to take a blood sample. For blood collection, using a halter and rope is sufficient. Ask someone to assist you in restraining the horse by holding the part of the rope attached to the tie ring.
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    Using gauze soaked in alcohol, wipe the jugular furrow of the horse. The jugular furrow is the longitudinal depression that runs along the neck. This is where you will find the jugular vein.
    • You can feel the jugular vein by pressing it with your thumb or fingers. It is very easy to find the jugular vein because you can feel it throb.
    • Wiping with alcohol facilitates identification of the jugular vein and at the same time disinfects the area where blood will be drawn.
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    Press the jugular vein at the base of the neck using your thumb. Pressing the jugular vein at the base of the neck will make it bulge, and will make blood collection easier because the vein can easily be seen and felt when the needle is inserted.
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    Gently insert a syringe into the jugular vein. Gently insert a syringe (5cc, 10cc, 20cc depending on the amount of blood required) with a gauge 21 needle into the bulging jugular vein at a 35 ° angle, directed to the horse’s head.
    • Before inserting the needle, it is important that you approach the horse from the side and massage or stroke the shoulder first, then the neck, and finally on the injection site.
    • It is important that you give a calm reassuring voice before and after the injection of the needle. Always remember that horses are very easily startled.
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    Withdraw the plunger on the needle. When the needle has been inserted into the jugular vein withdraw the plunger and check if the blood is flowing. If you have correctly inserted the needle blood will flow with ease.
    • After withdrawing the required amount of blood, place a thumb over the injection site and gently withdraw the needle.
    • Placing a thumb over the injection site will stabilize the needle and prevent it from falling down as you remove the needle and syringe.

Part 2
Knowing What to Do Next

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    Continue to apply pressure and check for bleeding. Using gauze soaked with alcohol, press the injection site for a minute and then check for bleeding.
    • Pressing the injection site will prevent bleeding because the pressure exerted by the thumb or finger occludes the vessel opening created after blood withdrawal.
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    Massage the injection site. Massaging the injection site for a few seconds (10 to 30) soothes any pain that the horse may experience after withdrawing the needle.
    • Remember that the insertion of the needle also created a small puncture wound. Massaging soothes the pain caused by the wound and relaxes the horse.
    • In addition, massaging the area can prevent large blood clots from forming at the injection site.
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    Transfer the collected blood to a suitable container. The collected blood can then be transferred to a suitable container.
    • The most common and easy to use containers are vacutainers. Vacutainers are vacuum sealed and automatically suck the blood from the syringe once the needle is inserted. These containers can easily be bought in human pharmacies.
    • For non-clotted blood samples, transfer the blood into vacutainers with a purple top cover. For clotted blood samples transfer the blood into vacutainers with a red top cover.
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    Send the blood sample to the lab. After collection, immediately send the blood sample to a laboratory, or contact your laboratory for further instructions.


  • Blood samples are usually used in monitoring the health status of horses. The sample is tested for blood values like red blood cell count, white blood cell count, packed cell volume.
  • For disease monitoring the horse's blood can be used in more complicated procedures for detecting possible viral and bacterial infections.

Article Info

Categories: Horse Health