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First-Aid Kit

Hints & Tips

There are many potential accidents and injuries that a horse can sustain, so it is worthwhile being prepared by having a horse first-aid kit to hand. By keeping all the materials in a box in the stable, you know that it is there if you need it. You could also create a smaller first-aid kit to carry with you when you go riding, or to keep in the trailer when your horse is being transported, to ensure you have something if your horse were to be injured.

The following items would be useful in your horse first-aid kit:

  • Bath and hand towels for applying pressure to slow or stop heavy bleeding
  • Rolls of gauze bandage and gauze squares for dressings
  • Surgical tape and duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Wrapping bandages
  • Leg wraps
  • Spray bottle
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Ointment
  • Large syringe for wound flushing
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Betadine or other disinfectant
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton buds
  • Mercury or digital thermometer

It is also worthwhile keeping some frozen cooling packs and ice cubes in a freezer close to your horse's stable. These would be handy for applying cold therapy to any areas that cannot easily be bandaged.

Write down an inventory of all the items in the first-aid kit, in alphabetical order. Including the expiry dates of any ointments and creams will also help when checking the kit. Also include your veterinary surgeon's telephone number and keep it in a prominent place.

If your horse does become injured and you are not sure what to do, contact your veterinary surgeon. They will be able to give you advice depending on the symptoms, and be experienced at administering any medications that may be required as a result.

There are also many good veterinary first-aid books, which are useful to read before an emergency happens. This way you will be more prepared in case something does happen.

Vital Signs

Below is some helpful information regarding your horse's vital signs, so that you can tell if there are any changes, which may mean your horse has ill health or is in distress.

Temperature should be 99–101 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is any higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit then alert your veterinary surgeon.

Pulse when your horse is resting should be 36–48 beats per minute. If your horse's pulse rate is greater than 60 when he is resting, or if he has a weak pulse, then alert your veterinary surgeon.

Respiration should be 8–16 breaths per minute. This will depend on your horse's activity level, but you should alert your veterinary surgeon if there is an unusual flaring of nostrils and quick, shallow breaths.

Intestinal sounds – there should be a variety of gurgles, squeaks and rasps coming from your horse's stomach area, and if there are no gut sounds then it is important to alert your veterinary surgeon.