First aid equipment for horses is a must-have to keep on hand in case an emergency situation arises. As a horse owner or caretaker, you will need to be able to stabilize an injury until the veterinarian can arrive. An extensive first-aid kit will help you to do so. You can buy premade kits or put one together yourself. Regardless of which option you choose, it is important to practice using the supplies on a regular basis so that you feel confident in your ability to respond quickly during an emergency.
The first item you will need to include in your equine first-aid kit is a waterproof, tightly sealed container for holding the medical supplies and equipment. This could be a small tool box, a large fishing-tackle box or something similar that has lots of compartments for keeping all the different items separate and easy to locate in an emergency. It should also be clean and dry to ensure the contents remain sterile.
You will also want to include a standard stethoscope in your first-aid kit, as this is useful for checking your horse’s vital signs such as heart and respiratory rate, says Randolph. You can also use a stethoscope to check for gut sounds in a colicky horse. You can purchase a cheap, basic stethoscope through medical supply stores or pharmacies for less than $30.
Another item that you should keep on hand is a thermometer, preferably a rectal veterinary-grade digital probe. You can buy these online or at your veterinarian’s office. A thermometer is essential for assessing an injured or sick horse and communicating important information to your veterinarian during the initial phone call, says Randolph.
Other necessary items to have on hand in your first-aid kit include a pair of latex gloves, which are used for cleaning wounds and handling medication as well as for touching mucous membranes, like the nose and mouth. It’s also good to have a small aluminum pan to set medication in or to use as a makeshift IV bag, and a spray bottle for disinfecting wounds and sanitizing equipment.
Finally, you will need a variety of bandage materials, such as vet wrap and a variety of leg wraps. Leg wraps can be helpful for reducing fluid buildup, swelling and heat in a leg. They can also be used to support a sprained or torn ligament, or to provide compression in the case of a fractured leg. You should also keep a couple of tweezers in your kit for removing splinters or ticks.
Finally, you should always have medications in your first-aid kit to treat common issues such as indigestion, muscle cramps and minor pain and fever. You should only administer medications that your veterinarian approves for your horse and follow their instructions as to the proper dosage. You should also post emergency contact numbers in your barn and save your vet’s number in your phone so that you are prepared to call for help immediately if needed.