A horse is a horse, and they will be a horse, right? Being a veterinary technician and someone who has had their own accident-prone Appaloosa for 19 years, I have learned a thing or two about first aid. Here is what I carry in my first aid kit for my horse.
Having bandage material in your first aid kit for your horse is a no brainer, but here are the specific items that I carry:
- Telfa Non-Adherent Pads are used on lacerations before bandaging a limb. These pads help keep cotton from sticking to the wound
- Cotton is extra padding to keep the wound safe, but it also helps keep you from wrapping a leg too tight with Vet Wrap, which leads to edema from circulation cut-off.
- Cling gauze is gauze that comes in a roll that goes on top of the cotton, helping to keep it in place.
- Vet Wrap, a roll in every color of course!
- Elastikon – I swear by this magical stuff! Place it on the edges of the bandage to keep it in place. It is so sticky that it is a bit difficult to take off but worth it. It may not work if it is cold, so place it under your arm to quickly warm it up to activate the stickiness!
Stethoscope and Thermometer for Vitals
I find having a stethoscope in my first aid kit for my horse comes in handy. It was extremely handy when I was faced with an emergency and needed to listen for lung sounds and a heart rate to relay information to my veterinarian who couldn’t come to the farm right away. Listening for gut sounds in a possible colic situation is also supportive. '
Next time your veterinarian is out, have them show you what to listen for, as well as what your horse’s normal body temperature is. This way, in case of an emergency, you can give your veterinarian vital information.
horse Have an index card for each of your horses in your first aid kit. On it, keep information like your horse’s normal heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature. You should also include any medical or important diet information that may be important for an emergency contact to know in case of your absence. The card is also a good baseline for you to refer to if your horse is acting lethargic or just not right.
Wound Cleaning Supplies
When it comes to cleaning wounds, I have found that curved- tip syringes are my best friend. If I’m looking at a puncture wound, I can use the tip to prob around to get an idea of how deep the wound is. The tip is also small enough that, when used to irrigate, there is a good amount of pressure behind it.
When cleaning or irrigating wounds, I use an antiseptic solution such as betadine or chlorhexidine. However, when using these solutions, it is important to dilute them before use as it can cause damage to the tissues.
Silver Sulfadiazine (say that 5 times fast!), or SSD, is a topical antibiotic that we use in the clinic and it works great for horse wounds too.
Antibiotics and Pain Control
I always keep a bottle of Penicillin in the fridge and a bottle of oral antibiotics. This way, if I’m not able to get my horse to the vet until the next day, I’m at least covered after discussing what I have on hand. Bute is also nice to have in your first aid kit for your horse in case a couple of doses are needed.
Being overly prepared is better than not being prepared at all. Talk with your veterinarian about what they recommend you keep on hand and do not give any medication until speaking with them. Ask questions at routine visits to expand your knowledge in horse first aid. Veterinarians love to teach!
What do you keep in your first aid kit for your horse? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Dani Buckley is a small-town resident in Montana. She is a veterinary technician manager and mom of eight four-legged kids – 5 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 horses. When she moved back home to Montana, her horses and her dogs moved with her (Carbon and Milo). The pack grew by three when she moved in with her boyfriend, Cody. Altogether there is a German Shepard (Lupay), a Border Collie (Missy), a Blue Heeler (Taz) and her two adorable mutts.
Her horses are her free time passion – Squaw and Tulsa. Dani has owned Squaw for 17 years and this mare has made 2 trips across the country with Dani! Squaw is a retired rodeo and cow horse. Her other mare, Tulsa, is an upcoming ranch horse. The girls have an unmatched personality and bond with Dani. She has been around horses her entire life and rodeoed throughout highschool and beyond. Now, she enjoys riding on the ranch, working cattle and trail riding.