Horse Supplies: Make Your Own First-Aid Kit for Horses
Why you need an equine first-aid kit
The recent death of my granddaughter’s pony has inspired me to research horse injuries and diseases, which in turn, prompted me to take a stroll down memory lane of all the horses I’ve owned in the past and of all the various injuries that befell them. These ranged from minor cuts and lacerations to a cutting horse mare with a fractured skull. I was lucky. Most of the time, we had an on-site veterinarian. Most horse owners, however, aren’t so fortunate. Every horseman needs to keep an emergency first-aid kit on hand among their horse supplies. These can be purchased already assembled, but you can make your own for much less money.
Below is a general list of the horse supplies you’ll need:
Digital thermometer: These are much easier to read than the standard mercury thermometers. Lubricate the thermometer before inserting it into the horse’s rectum. To avoid “losing” the thermometer, tie a string to end of it. Normal temperature for a horse at rest is 100-101.
Stethoscope: You’ll need a stethoscope to check your horse’s heart rate. Normal rate for an adult horse is around 30-40 beats per minute. A newborn foal’s heart rate should be 80-100 beats per minute, while an older foal, say a weanling, will have a normal resting heart rate of 60-80 beats per minute. To check heart rate, you’ll need a watch with a second hand. Count heartbeats as you time 15 seconds, then multiply the rate by four to get beats per minute.
Garden hose: These can be life-saving horse supplies! Keep two six-inch sections of old stiff garden hose in your kit. If your horse is bitten by a snake, these could mean life or death, especially if the snake struck the nose or face. In that case, the breathing passage could swell shut. Apply a little petroleum jelly to the hose to help with insertion. You might need tape to hold them in place. If you live in an area with venomous snakes, this is a vital part of your first-aid arsenal. We just lost a horse to a rattlesnake bite. It’s a good idea to take the hose, the tape, and the KY jelly with you on trail rides!
Tape: You’ll need tape to hold the hose sections in place in case of a bite from a poisonous snake. Duct tape works well for this purpose.
Petroleum jelly or other lubricant: These are needed to lubricate the thermometer and the garden hose. Many horse owners prefer KY Jelly because it’s water soluble.
Liquid antiseptic: You’ll need some sort of wound cleaner like Betadine for irrigating wounds.
Cotton wool: Since you’ll be using this to clean surface wounds and abrasions, it needs to be as clean as possible. Keep it in a small zip-loc bag.
Sterile water: If you’re out riding when an injury occurs, you probably won’t be near a source of clean water. You can purchase this by the gallon and then pour it into small bottles yourself. Of course, you can boil water from home and make you own sterile water.
Packets of salt: Add these to sterile water to make a saline solution. Flush the wounds after cleaning with Betadine and before applying the bandage. Keep the salt packets dry in a small freezer bag.
Wound dressing: Purchase a good wound dressing like Derma-cleanse or Furacin to apply on the cleaned wound under the bandage. These products prohibit bacterial growth in wounds, cuts, and cutaneous ulcers.
Cotton diapers: Keep a few cotton diapers – not disposable diapers like Pampers – in your first aid kit. These can be used for bandages under Vetrap. They’re absorbent, and they breathe.
Vetrap: This is a handy product and a must for equine first-aid kits. It’s tough and durable, yet pliable and comfortable. Since it clings to itself, you won’t need safety pins or surgical tape to keep it in place. The pressure from the Vetrap can stop bleeding.
Antibiotic ointment: Use a triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin once the wound is in the process of healing.
Insect spray: Use this to keep flies away from wounds. The sweat-proof spray is the most effective.
Twitch: You might need a twitch to control the horse in order to examine it or to medicate it. Even the most gentle, well trained horse might become difficult to handle when in pain or distress.
Wire cutters: If your horse is in an enclosure with wire fencing, you need a good pair of wire cutters with your horse supplies. Horses are notorious for getting entangled in wire. If you purchase one like the Fuller Tool, you'll also be able to cut through horseshoe nails should the need arise.
Hoof pick: This item is essential for removing rocks and other debris from the hoof. A combination hoofpick and brush comes in especially handy. This should always be carried along on trail rides.
Epsom salts: This is great for soaking legs and feet to draw out pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Medical scissors: You'll need scissors in your horse supplies. Get the kind made especially for cutting through bandages – the ones with the rounded, blunt ends.
Adhesive bandages: You’ll need these for wounds that aren’t on the legs – for places you can’t use wraps.
Tranquilizer: Get a tranquilizer or sedative from your veterinarian.
Antibiotics: These might include oral and/or injectable antibiotics. Remember that some antibiotics must be refrigerated. Talk to your vet about this.
Flashlight: Keep a good flashlight and an extra set of batteries in your kit. If your horse is injured at night, you’ll need to be able to see well enough to inspect the wound and treat it.
Pain Relief: A product like RZN HoresRelief will decrease pain, inflammation, and swelling without adverse side effects. This product is especially effective for arthritis pain and joint injuries and has received rave reviews from renowned horsemen.
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