It’s a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a ride. The arena has just been dragged and the fluffy footing is calling your name. You walk out to the pasture to catch your horse. When he doesn’t come trotting up as usual you call his name and scan the horizon. Slowly, he comes limping up to you with a bloody gash on his hind limb. Your heart drops, but you immediately devise a plan to care for his wound.
All horses get hurt, it’s only a matter of time. When emergency strikes, the last thing you want is to have to search for first aid supplies. Here’s a great list of of essential first aid supplies needed to care for a wound before your veterinarian arrives or to help heal a wound on your own. I store mine in a convenient, and inexpensive, caddy equipped with an easy-to-carry handle. Many horse owners keep their first aid kits in plastic tubs with lids, but I personally like to have it in a caddy so I can see all my supplies and have them at my fingertips. Use what works best for you, though!
1. Betadine solution. You can either dilute iodine yourself or use Betadine surgical scrub. I prefer to use surgical scrub with a clean sponge or sterile gauze because the suds deeply clean wounds. Not all wounds can be scrubbed, so use your best judgment when selecting a cleaning solution. Nolvasan is also an excellent cleaning solution preferred by many veterinarians.
2. Nitrofurazone ointment. There are many types of ointments on the market for wounds, but this one is my favorite. This ointment works well as an antibiotic preventing surface bacterial infections. It can be used with or without a bandage.
3. Wonder Dust. This is one of my favorite products to use on wounds that are slow healing. Its drying agents prevent bleeding, creating a dry barrier to contaminants. It also contains charcoal to cut down on proud flesh growth.
4. Non-stick gauze pads. These are a necessity when bandaging a leg wound. Larger sizes are best for horses!
5. Vetrap. You never know when you might need to wrap a leg wound. I always keep several rolls in my wound care caddy so I’m not tempted to skimp when wrapping.
6. Bandage scissors. Ever tried cutting through an old wrap with regular craft scissors? Take my word for it and don’t even attempt it, unless you want a new wound. Invest in some bandage scissors and thank me later.
7. Towels. Towels come in really handy to stop blood flow on a wound or to dry off a leg after cold hosing and, before applying a wrap. If you don’t want to purchase brand-new towels just to be ruined on a bloody wound, use clean old t-shirts or socks! Clean mismatched socks are great used as mitts to apply pressure or clean a wound.
Obviously, this caddy is reserved specifically for wounds and minor abrasions. Complete first aid kits are much more extensive and can treat a wider range of ailments. When building your complete first aid kit you might consider adding a thermometer, petroleum jelly, latex gloves, a twitch, hoofpick, phenylbutazone, banamine, and a stethoscope. Also keep a separate caddy equipped with supplies for applying standing wraps. Having these basics ready in one place will make caring for a wound less stressful for you and your horse!