"Essential Items For Your Horse First Aid Kit
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"Essential Items For Your Horse First Aid Kit

Whether you keep your horse at home, at DIY livery or full livery, your beloved four legged friend will be regularly exposed to situations where there is a potential to sustain an injury. Of course, the majority of the time these are fairly minor and are a result of exposure to the normal surroundings and situations that a horse is exposed to and the natural activities a horse will enjoy during the day. For example, when turned out it is almost impossible to stop your horse clipping his leg while galloping around with his companions, or in warmer weather he will be at risk of sustaining fly bites which can easily become rubbed on fencing and opened to the air when they cause itching and irritation to the horse. Most of these minor wounds will be superficial and will heal without intervention from the vet but in some circumstances it will be highly recommended to manage the wound yourself.

Managing wounds in horses

If you have assessed that the horse has sustained only a minor injury that can be successfully managed at home, the first step is to ensure the cut, graze or lesion is thoroughly cleaned. Please remember that at any time should you suspect infection or that there is an underlying concern you must call your veterinary surgeon for advice.

For every horse owner understanding the basics of a first aid kit for your horse and having the supplies readily available is of great importance. If an emergency did occur, knowing the location of the horse first aid kit at the yard, how to correctly use the contents of the kit and ensuring the kit is well stocked and items replaced and restocked after use could help save vital time in a critical situation.

First Aid Kits – Why and What?

First aid kits for horses are available as pre-packed ready-made boxes, however it can be highly recommended to make your own, not only could this work out more cost effective but you will know first-hand what is stocked in the kit and it can often be the case that you need to purchase additional items with a pre-packed kit so in the long run you are saving time and effort!

Storing all your equipment in one container means it is easy to locate and easy to spot if you are in a stressed situation. Selecting a waterproof, airtight container such as a tool box or fishing box with separated compartments for storage will keep all first aid materials dry and sterile. It is recommended to choose a light coloured box which you can mark on the exterior with a large red cross and the word HORSE – making this instantly recognisable from a distance.

When preparing your first aid kit, mark down the contents as you go along, including the quantity of each and if applicable an expiry date. This can be placed in the lid of the first aid kit so when any item is used it can be crossed out until it has been restocked – consider typing up the list, laminating and using a wipe clean pen so you can use the inventory as an ongoing resource.

What should my first aid kit contain?

When it comes to stocking your first aid kits there are some essentials that sound make up the basis of your kit and are highly recommended to have handy. If you are stocking your first aid kit for the first time why not print out the following recommendations to take to your local tack or country store to build up your basics:

  • Latex Gloves – it is always recommended to wear gloves when cleaning wounds , dealing with any form of injury and as a bonus , if you fill a glove with hot water and tie the end it will create a “hot hand” make shift hot water bottle.
  • A pair of large scissors recommended for cutting bandages and large items and a small pair of sharp scissors which can often be used for removing stitches or dressings.
  • A rectal thermometer – temperature tells us a lot about how the horse is feeling – a raised temperature could indicate infection or stress. You can use either a traditional glass thermometer digital plastic versions are available and give quick, clear readings
  • Lubricating jelly - you should always coat the end of the thermometer prior to insertion to prevent injury to your horse’s delicate rectal tissue.
  • Self-sticking bandages (often known as Vetrap ) available in numerous colours, it is recommended to have at least 4 rolls available
  • A medical stethoscope
  • Gauze squares and cotton wool roll – for cleaning and packing wounds and dressings
  • Medical adhesive tape
  • At least 2 wrapped poultices (Animalintex) – standard shape and hoof shape – ensure these remain wrapped at all times, once open they are no longer sterile.
  • Clean stable bandages – set of 4
  • Cold packs – you can purchase specific horse patches which provide instant cooling relief upon application in either disposable or reusable formats.
  • A range of antiseptics – a wound cream, hydrogen peroxide, Iodine solution, chlorhexidine (Hibiscrub) and the horse-lovers best friend – Sudocrem!
  • Saline solution and alcohol wipes for cleaning wounds and flushing foreign bodies.
  • Forceps or tweezers for removing lodged dry foreign bodies, ticks or splinters.

It is also handy to have available at your yard and located close to the first aid kit, a kettle for hot water, some towels and a twitch. As with any animal, horses are unpredictable and in the case of a painful wound you may find your horse does not react as he normally would. Last, but not least – in fact, a priority – is to keep a list of all emergency contacts in your first aid box – the vet practice, a contingency vet practice, farrier, local police, yard owner and the BHS helpline. Although we all have mobile phones these days with the details in, we also have limited battery life so having all emergency contacts in an easily accessible, non-power dependent location can save time and stress in an emergency.

Spending time building up and storing a horse first aid kit at your yard with the recommended items can be life-saving investment. Having a full range of equipment, tools and supplies on hand will allow you to act quickly in any situation which could mean saving vital time and prevent escalation of an injury to a critical

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