First Aid Essentials for Horses

It is inevitable that sooner or later your horse will get sick. Whether its an injury or an illness you’ll want to be prepared. Have you ever stopped to wonder if you have everything you need in your first aid kit? Well, look no further! Here are some suggestions to help you out when the unexpected happens.

Horse First Aid

Injury Care

You never know when an injury or emergency can occur. It is essential that if (or when) the time comes that you are prepared. An all too common injury to a horse is an open wound. Especially on the leg. Be prepared for this injury by keeping a good stock of 100% cotton bandages such as sheet cotton in your first aid kit. Another key item in your first aid kit is some type of disposable, self-adherent bandage, such as Vetrap, on hand. This will help maintain pressure over the wound. Just be certain to use some padding underneath it.

Before you wrap that wound, make sure you guard again trapping dirt and germs under the dressing! Make sure you have a good wound cleanser on hand. A liquid or spray disinfectant is good, but make sure as to not over apply as too much could be detrimental to the wound. If you’re near the barn, good old unscented hand soap is a perfectly acceptable wound cleaner. It’s not overly aggressive so as to slow down or prevent blood clotting and make things worse. Just get the debris off and slow or stop the bleeding until your vet can get there and assess the wound.

Horse Thermometer

Illness Care

Does your horse see off? What should you do to try and help them while you wait for the vet. Here are two things you should consider having on hand if you think your horse is ill. The first is a thermometer. Keep a digital probe in your kit. This shouldn’t be an over the ear or over the skin type as they are not always accurate. Make sure you mark it for your horse so that a human doesn’t use it by mistake later. Taking a horse’s temperature is easy! Just insert the probe into the rectum and hold it there until it beeps. Remove and read. A suggestion would be to take your horse’s temperature before you call a veterinarian. Having your horse’s temperature on hand will help him or she have a better picture of your horse’s condition.

You may also want to throw a standard stethoscope into your first aid kit. They are available online or from your vet. With a little training from your vet you can learn how to check your horse’s pulse and respiration rates. It can also allow you to check a colicky horse’s gut sounds. 

Having some basic knowledge of how to use these tools can help you communicate critical vital signs (pulse, temperature, and respiration) to your vet during during that first emergency call.

Horse Headlamp

Miscellaneous Items

Here are some items that you may or may not need but still a great idea to have on hand because a good horse first aid kit will help you manage any situation that may crop up.

Since emergencies can happen at any time of the day or night, always have a flashlight and or a headlamp on hand. We love the headlamp because it allows your hands to be free rather than just using one. You’ll also probably be happy to have a set of wire cutters handy when you have to go and set your horse free from wire, electric fencing, baling twine or some other trouble they’ve gotten tied up in. Scissors, duct tape, pen, and paper are also nice to keep handy as when you’re in a panic looking for them you can never find them.

Do you have a list of emergency numbers handy? We know with the popularity of cell phones you might not, but the one time you need your phone it will either be dead or in your house or car. Your emergency number list should include your vets office number, the actual emergency number to the clinic, your farrier’s number as well as local emergency numbers such as police, fire, and ambulance.

Have more questions about how to care for your horse, but not sure where to look? Turn to our Equine Medical and Surgical Blog! Our blog contains a large number of different posts containing information ranging from horse breeds to horse care, to prepping your barn and more. It is a one-stop-shop for all your equestrian care questions. To check it out, click here!