Today I’m going to show you what I put in my first aid kit for my barns. If you don’t have your own horsey first aid kit, this might be a good time to put one together. You never know when your horse is going to get into trouble, but I can assure you, it’s only a matter of time. Have you ever heard the saying that horses are “disasters waiting to happen?” Or my personal fave, “it’s not IF they’ll get hurt, but WHEN?” I would have to agree with both these statements. I keep my kits pretty basic. In the beginning I would stock up on supplies that I never ended up needing and I would eventually have to throw them out. Now I know better the supplies I’ll actually use in an emergency. I put all my supplies in a movable drawer cart, but anything would work. It’s also nice to have a little basket handy so you can grab what you need and carry it to the injured horse easily, instead of making trips or dropping everything on the way.
Let’s start with antiseptics and ointments:
1. & 2. For minor lacerations, I wash out wounds with an iodine antiseptic solution. Basically, I just squirt some iodine into a clean ketchup container and dilute with water. The squirt bottle works really well especially in hard to reach areas, and it also makes it easy to completely drench the wound.
3. Occasionally I’ll use hydrogen peroxide to wash a wound. I tend to use it on extra dirty areas because the bubbly foam can reach nooks and crannies that I can’t reach myself. Just a word of caution, hydrogen peroxide stings, so be ready for your horse to tell you so.
4. I really like using Vetericyn to topically treat small wounds.
5. Fura-Zone is used under sterile non-stick pads when wrapping a wound.
Supplies for wrapping leg wounds:
1. These cheap washcloths come in super handy for drying areas after they have been washed and/or cold-hosed. I have also found them useful when I’ve needed to apply pressure to an area to stop bleeding. Some people use gauze or cotton to do this. I personally think the washcloths are the best choice because they are reusable, and fiber does not stick to the wound like cotton would. *After I use them, I wash them in super hot water with ammonia to sterilize them.*
2. I then use a sterile non-stick pad to adhere ointment on the wound and create a barrier between the wound and the actual wrap.This is a critical step that should not be skipped. There’s nothing worse than removing cotton or anything else that sticks and dries into the wound. I have had to do that in a pinch when my, ahem, first aid kit was not fully stocked… Let me tell you from experience, the horse does not like it.
3. If the wound looks like it’s going to swell, I usually use my cotton roll to create some padding around the leg.
4. Then I use my trusty vet wrap to cover the area.
These are some extras that I always keep as well, though they may not be used as frequently:
1. Rubber gloves, of course, are always included in my kit. Do you want to clean an abscess with your bare hands? Didn’t think so.
2. Epsom salt and an Epsom salt poultice. These are great for drawing out abscesses in feet. Make a warm soaking solution with Epsom salt and some iodine and soak the affected hoof for about 10 minutes two times a day. You can also pack your horse’s hoof with a poultice and vet trap a baby diaper to the hoof to draw out infection.
3. DMSO. I have mixed feelings about DMSO and so I tend not to use it if I can avoid it. Here’s a great article talking about uses and controversy of Dimethyl Sulfoxide.
4. It is an absolute must to keep a thermometer in your first aid kit. When a horse just seems generally ill, it’s the first thing I do.
5. I also have a pesticide dust on hand. I hardly ever use it, but it’s there if I need it to ward off bugs of any nature.
6. This is huge bag of syringes of all sizes. Yet another item I rarely use, but just in case we have it on hand. Sometimes syringes comes in handy to clean deep wounds. I just take the needle out and put antiseptic solution into the syringe.
**Two very typical first aid kit supplies I do not have listed are phenylbutazone and banamine. I always keep bute in case of an emergency, but I do not use it without great consideration of the possible side effects. Not all horses experience serious side effects, but when they do it is most definitely serious. If I can avoid bute and use an aspirin powder I will, because you just don’t know if your horse will have a reaction or not. Banamine, or flunixin meglumine rather, is the same way and also trickier since it needs to be administered IV. If I have a situation that is serious enough to need banamine, I better have a vet out there first. This is obviously not how everyone does it and that’s fine. It is a matter of opinion, and this is what seems to work for me. Better safe than sorry.
We can’t forget the people! I also throw a few things in there for the humans:)
I hope this encourages you to get a kit together of your own. Today. Before your horse does anything stupid! Because it’s only a matter of time. Happy Monday!