Being a horse owner means sometimes being a "first responder" when a horse looks ill or appears injured. Recognizing these 5 common barn emergencies can help you prevent your horse from being one of the “walking wounded.”
Symptoms of colic include loss of appetite, biting at the flanks, lying down, rolling and sweating. Here are some ways you can help prevent it.
-Ensure horses are fed high quality grain and/or forage;
-Ensure an adequate water supply is provided - and is being drank; Check out classic equine automatic waterers
-Ensure grain rooms are locked up tight so there is no midnight snacking.
-Ensure turnout areas are safe of unusual material (e.g. sand, grass clippings ) so nothing harmful is digested;
Lacerations and punctures:
Many of these are preventable by doing a quick safety check on your barn. The location of the injury will dictate the necessary treatment and aftercare.
-Make sure there are no sharp edges, protruding nails or splintered wood in stalls and along fences;
-Check turnout areas for safety issues;
-Be aware that horses with shoes on their hind feet turned out with other horses can result in cuts and bruises.
Joint and tendon injury:
Turning out horses - whether alone or together - is a great benefit, but it also has its drawbacks. Many tendon or joint injuries occur when the horse is having the most fun.
-Make sure your turnout areas are free of any holes, rocks or branches that can trip a horse.
-Good footing can prevent stress injuries.
Any trauma to a tendon or joint should be considered a medical emergency and handled by your vet right away. Ice and cold water are options, but always consult your veterinarian first. Delay in aggressive and appropriate treatment can add months to healing time.
Eye injuries or irritations can be caused by a poke in the eye from a water bucket handle, by dust or by ill-fitting fly masks.
-Make sure your stalls are safe from anything that protrudes;
-Check that fly masks do not rub against the eye as they can sometimes hide problems. Fly masks should be removed and checked for any irritation atleast twice a day.
Any time an eye is observed to be swollen or closed or has a discharge associated with it, you should consider it a medical emergency and contact your vet.
Fire related Injury:
Injuries from fire include first, second and third degree burns as well as lung damage due to smoke inhalation. It goes without saying that you want to do everything you can to prevent barn fires. This includes:
-Storing hay away from the barn;
-Prohibiting smoking in or around the barn;
-Making sure electrical wires are up to code and undamaged;
-Install smoke alarms.
Basic safety tips include having the appropriate phone numbers for vet(s), fire department, and police clearly posted around the barn.
Each horse owner should have their own first aid kit. As temperature can sometimes be an indicator of problems, it's important that your kit should include at least two working thermometers - and be sure you know how to use them. As always, for any medical condition, a veterinarian should be consulted before treatment is initiated.
As a horse owner, you need to know your horse inside and out, including eating habits, current or past medical issues or other signs that they are happy - or not. Be an advocate for your horse's health by discussing your horse’s health issues with your barn manager and veterinarian. Remember - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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