When you own a horse, you can be guaranteed that he will injure himself or get sick at some point during his life. Time to brush up on your equine first aid? Here are five first aid skills that every horse owner should have.
1. Take Temperature
It might not be the most glamorous job around, but every horse owner should be able to take a horse’s temperature. Oftentimes a fever will be the first indication that your horse is sick and needs immediate veterinary attention. To make the task of temperature taking easier, consider keeping a few digital thermometers around the barn, since they can get accurate reads more quickly than your standard glass thermometer can. However, it’s important that you make sure that you also have good batteries around the barn if you opt to go the digital route.
2. Bandage and Wrap Legs
Being able to bandage and wrap your horse’s legs properly is a skill that you’re sure to put to work at some point. Bandaging and wrapping legs takes time and practice. Make sure that you learn this skill under the guidance of a talented horseperson. Wrapping legs incorrectly can actually cause injury like bowed tendons, so practice your wrapping skills until you can confidently wrap legs.
3. Take a Horse’s Pulse and Respiration
It’s important to be able to take your horse’s pulse and respiration rates. With each, you will want to count the number of heartbeats or breaths taken over the course of a minute. Often you can take a respiration rate by simply watching the flare of your horse’s nostrils. Taking a pulse can be more difficult, so practice finding your horse’s pulse under his jaw ahead of time. With practice, you’ll be able to easily take a pulse.
4. Clean and Treat Wounds
Most horses will scrape themselves at least a few times during their lifetime. While scrapes and superficial cuts generally aren’t cause to call the vet, you need to know how to take care of these injuries properly. Learn how to clean, assess, treat, and possibly bandage a cut or wound from an experienced horseperson. It’s a skill that you’ll most certainly put to use if you’re around horses for extended periods of time.
5. Recognize Medical Emergencies
Perhaps one of the most important first aid skills that any horse owner should have is the ability to recognize when a situation is a medical emergency. All horse owners should learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of colic, shock, heat stroke, infection, and choke. Knowing when it’s time to call the vet can allow you to stay ahead of medical emergencies, giving your horse a better chance at a complete recovery.