When you own a horse, you may spend a lot on tack, feed, supplements and riding apparel. However, there is one supply that may save your horse but horse owners tend to forget about: a first aid pack.
Horses have a beautiful body that has evolved over thousands of years from being short with stocky muscular legs to allow them to climb rocks and mountains to a leaner body with long legs to run fast in the plains at the sight of a threat. This means that their body, especially their legs, are a lot more susceptible to injuries than their ancestors’.
Whether your horse is in a paddock or in a stall, he can get hurt and the first thing you will need to do is to have the right supplies to attend to the injury before the vet shows up. In some cases, you won’t need veterinary assistance if you are able to mend the damage yourself.
A storage box
Before anything else, you need a storage box to store all your first aid supplies. You don’t need an expensive first aid box, just one that will keep all the material and equipment clean and dry. You can go to a store like Crazy Clarks and by a 30 or 40 litre plastic container with a lid. The container must be high enough to hold bottles like Betadine and it must close so no dust or water can get into it.
I also recommend to invest in large zip lock bags to keep bandages and cotton separate.
Have some smaller containers for scissors, stethoscope and thermometer.
If you trail ride or go to competition, you might want to have a small bag where you can carry the bare minimum with you.
First aid supplies
There are some basic supplies you should always have. They can be purchased from veterinary clinics, produce stores or online like at Horse Supplies Direct. Buy in bulk as these do not go out of date and it is better to have more than not enough in case of an emergency:
- Cotton wool rolls. It is best to buy them from suppliers as stated above instead of supermarkets as they are in a size designed for large animals. Cotton wool is great as an under wrap for wrapping legs before Elastoplast, cleaning sheath, cleaning eyes etc.
- Gauze and cotton wool rolls. This is ideal for wounds and wrapping hooves.
- 10cm swabs to clean wounds and as dressing.
- 7.5cm or 10 cm elastic adhesive bandage rolls like Elastoplast
- Cohesive bandage rolls like Vetwrap. These are like crepe rolls that stretch a lot. You must always wrap the area with cotton first to avoid cutting the blood flow due to the stretchy material.
Antiseptics and medicated ointments
These medicated lotions will go out of date so you should always check the date prior to using them:
- Betadine is a iodine solution which is a broad spectrum wound antiseptic, with fungicidal, bactericidal & sporicidal properties. Unless indicated by your vet, you should dilute it with water to about 30-50%.
- Saline solution is effective for irrigating wounds and clean eyes
- Wound ointment or cream with antiseptic property like Betadine cream
The natural supplies
This article wouldn’t be from Horse Whispers if it did not have natural products!
My personal first aid kit for my horses contain all of the above minus the wound ointment as I only use the following:
- Essential oil of Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) as an antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and anaesthetic oil. Can be purchased from reputable essential oils suppliers.
- Niaouli essential oil (Melaleuca Quinquenervia or MQV) as antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. Can be purchased from reputable essential oils suppliers.
- Tea Tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) for its antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. Can be purchased from reputable essential oils suppliers.
- French green clay for its healing, antiseptic, antifungal, anti proud flesh, and antibacterial properties
- A bottle of coconut oil for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. You can purchase it from Asian supermarkets for the cooking oil one. If you want to get the real good one, you will need to buy the cold presses virgin coconut oil which you can find online or in health shops. The cooking oil one is a lot cheaper and work the same on the skin as the virgin one. However, if you are going to feed coconut oil to your horses, it must be the virgin one.
- Arnica ointment or Arnica oil for bruises
- Calendula tincture for disinfecting wounds and cuts. Calendula tincture has been proven to be an exceptional disinfectant.
The essential oils can be added to water to disinfect wounds. If you have the Calendula tincture, then use it instead as a rate of 20 drops per 100 ml of water to disinfect wounds, cuts, etc.
The clay can be made as a paste with water or coconut oil and the essential oils as a wound healing cream.
- You should always have a thermometer to check your horse’s temperature. Anything above 38.5 degrees Celsius is a fever and may indicate an infection. Call your vet.
- A stethoscope to listen to your horse’s heartbeat and tummy noises, unless you know how to do these without a stethoscope.
- A straight stainless steel first-aid scissors, with one sharp point and one blunt one for general use.
- Optional is a stainless steel bandage shears.
- Also optional is a box of latex gloves.
- A small bucket that you only use for medical purpose like preparing a disinfectant solution.
- Few plastic or glass cups to mix clay if you decide to use it as well as wooden paddle pops to stir it.
- It’s always a good idea to have rubbing alcohol to disinfect your hands and clean the equipment after use.
So here you go! Now you can have a good first aid kit for your horses and be prepared in case of injury or emergency.