Equine first-aid essentials

Injuries and illness are an unfortunate part of horse care. But being prepared to give your horse first aid could make a big difference in the outcome of the situation. Every horse owner needs basic first-aid essentials. In such circumstances, before putting any of these tools to use, contact a veterinarian so they can assess the situation.

Keep these useful horse supplies on hand while waiting for the vet to arrive:

  1. Bandages: Protect wounds, provide support to muscles and hold ice packs with horse leg wraps or self-adhesive bandages. An assortment of bandaging materials are helpful to have on hand. Add the following to your first aid kit: cotton padding and nonstick gauze, duct tape and disposable diapers, sterile gauze and elastoplast, white adhesive medical tape, plastic wrap and cotton leg wraps.
  2. Buckets: Soak hooves and clean wounds with buckets kept specifically for first aid use.
  3. Diluted iodine: Any scrapes, cuts or puncture wounds can be flushed out with diluted iodine and covered to keep them from drying until the vet comes to treat them.
  4. Electrolytes: Prevent dehydration by having an Electrocharge™ on hand. Electrocharge™ is a concentrated blend of electrolytes and trace mineral salts that helps promote healthy hydration in horses.
  5. Flashlight: At nighttime or early morning, a flashlight might be necessary to assess the problem.
  6. Fly repellant: Keep flies away from an open wound that can’t be covered with a bandage. Be sure to apply repellent around the wound, not directly on it.
  7. Hemostat: Hemostats are meant to remove splinters, burrs and thistles from a horse’s skin.
  8. Hoof pick: Remove foreign objects from hooves and shoes with a hoof pick. Additionally, regular use of a pick helps keep the hooves healthy by removing objects or dirt clumps that can make walking uncomfortable and even painful for a horse.
  9. Ice pack: Ice packs will help reduce swelling.
  10. PVC Pipes: Cut 6-inch -diameter piping in half lengthwise and then into 1.5- to 2-foot sections for use as an emergency splint.
  11. Rubbing alcohol: Use this to disinfect thermometers, scissors and other horse supplies.
  12. Scissors or knife: It’s a good idea to keep something for cutting bandaging materials or freeing a horse caught in a rope. Always exercise caution when using scissors around your horse.
  13. Stethoscope: A horse’s heartbeat can be heard the loudest behind its left elbow. The normal heart rate for a horse is 25-45 beats per minute. Ponies may have a slightly faster normal heart rate. A stethoscope is also useful for listening to gut sounds. This is a must-have for any barn.
  14. Surgical gloves: These will help owners keep their hands clean and prevent wound contamination.
  15. Thermometer: If the horse looks sick, keeping a thermometer on hand allows owners to assess if the horse has a normal temperature. Normal horse temperature is between 99 and 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Note: Taking a horse’s temperature routinely when it is healthy will help determine what is normal for the horse.
  16. Wire cutter: Use this item to free your horse from fences.
  17. Wound antiseptic: Prevent infections with a sulfur antiseptic powder, ointment or Fura-Free™. In addition, it’s not a bad idea for owners to keep tampons available to stop the bleeding in puncture wounds.

After any incident, horse owners should see their vet immediately.

Fura-Free™ is a safe sweat and salve that helps promote healthy skin, and it’s Nitrofurazone free.  Fura-Free™ protects and soothes minor cuts, scrapes, burns and cracked heels.