Horses are uncannily talented at injuring themselves, and as a horse owner you’ll likely deal with a whole assortment of equine injuries and ailments. Being prepared can make treating such conditions much easier, so be sure to keep a well-stocked first aid kit. Below are fifteen essential items to always have on hand.
Thermometer – Purchasing a good digital thermometer can quickly provide you with an accurate readout of your horse’s temperature. Tie a string onto the thermometer to avoid losing it within the horse. Remember that the batteries will quickly go dead in the cold weather, so it’s a good idea to keep the thermometer in a heated room, have additional batteries on hand, or invest in a second mercury thermometer in case the batteries should go dead when you need them.
Stable wraps and pillow wraps – Have a clean set of stable wraps and pillow wraps ready to go. Store the stable wraps pre-rolled so that you can grab one and wrap in a hurry.
Antiseptic cleanser – A bottle of antiseptic cleanser such as Betadine can be used in multiple fashions: applied directly to the wound as a disinfectant, diluted with water as a wound wash, and used as a scrub to disinfect your own hands.
Bandaging wrap material – Always keep a few roles of self-adhesive bandaging wrap in your kit. It’s useful for bandaging legs and hooves.
Sterile gauze pads – Individually-packaged non-stick sterile gauze pads of varying sizes can be used as a layer between wounds and an overlying bandage.
Sheet cotton – Rolled sheet cotton can be used to add padding to bandages and to pack hooves.
Duct tape – Duct tape is always useful in a barn, but in a first aid kit it can be used to keep bandages on. Duct tape layered into a sheet can be pressed flat across the bottom of a hoof and will serve as a strong bottom layer for a hoof bandage or wrap.
Epsom salt – Dissolved into warm water, Epsom salt can be used to soak and draw abscesses.
Antiseptic ointment – You’ll probably have great use for an antiseptic ointment or wound dressing – it can be applied to most of the cuts or scratches your horse gets. It’s a good idea to get an ointment which repels flies to keep them away from open wounds during the summer months.
Hoof pick – Keep an extra hoof pick in your first aid kit for cleaning out hooves.
Flashlight or headlamp – Even in the most well-lit barns it can be difficult to get a good look at injuries on a horse’s legs or belly. A powerful flashlight can come in handy when trying to evaluate these wounds. Even better (despite looking a little ridiculous) is a headlamp, which will leave your hands free to treat the injury while providing you with a clear view of what you’re doing.
Twitch – In the case of serious injuries, restraining a horse may be necessary. Having a twitch on hand can make dealing with a serious situation safer for both you and your horse.
Bandage scissors – A poorly guided cut when trying to remove a bandage can quickly undo all of your work in trying to help your horse heal, and if the scissors you’re using are sharp, you can even make the injury worse than it was originally. Don’t take the risk – keep a pair of bandage scissors with blunt tips and a tip guard in your kit. Use these – and only these – to cut through bandages.
Latex gloves – Disposable latex gloves will keep your hands clean when dealing with wounds and blood. You might also consider purchasing some latex fingertip cots, since they provide easy ways to put ointment on smaller wounds without getting your hands messy.
Wire cutters – Hopefully you will never need this item from your first aid kit, but if there is wire anywhere on your farm, you’ll want to have cutters on hand in the event that a horse should ever become entangled.
With a bit of planning you can create a well-prepared first aid kit to make dealing with horse health issues easier in the future.
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