When you have horses, accidents seem to come with the territory. Horses seem to be a magnet for injuries so it is important to have a first aid kit readily available in your barn, tack room, or wherever you keep your horses. If you have horses, I am sure you have had instances when you have needed a first aid kit. If you have not, consider yourself extremely lucky, but eventually something will happen.
Let me give you an example….
On a very cold and snowy March morning, I heard something outside. I do not know how to describe it other than a ruckus, a HUGE ruckus. I went running outside to the barn, and I had a headlamp in my hand because it was 5:30 AM. I shined the light at my horses, and all I could see was blood gushing from one of my horses back legs. I had no idea of what happened, but the way the blood was running out of his leg, I knew I had to get it stopped, and I had no idea of how badly he was injured.
Thankfully he was very calm, he allowed me to halter him, and tie him to my hitching post (Thank God I had built that about 3 weeks earlier.) I shined the light on his back leg, and the blood was freely flowing. I ran to the tack room and grabbed my first aid kit, and then back to him to wrap his leg. He was in pain, so when I would wrap around his leg, and apply pressure to the wrap, he would lift his leg, but he never kicked. I started at the top of the leg, and worked my way down, but the blood was still coming through, and running down his leg. I used everything that I had, and it was still bleeding.
By this time I am completely freaking out, trying to find the vet’s phone number. I found it, and called the answering service, and waited for the vet to call me back.
In the meantime, I found a roll of duct tape, and started adding more compression to my dressing, trying to get the bleeding to stop. When it was all done, I had used 4 rolls of gauze, 3 ace wraps, 3 rolls of vet wrap and a lot of duct tape. Oh, and as a side note, in case you were wondering, duct tape does not stick very well when it is soaked in blood, and it is 30 degrees outside.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Ethan (my horse) is ok, and is almost completely recovered. Below are a few photos from the incident from the time of injury until today, when I posted this article. (Sorry, the pictures are a bit graphic)
He severed a large vein, but no broken bones, and he is sound. To this day I do not know what happened, but he managed to get his leg above the four foot tall kick wall of his stall, and put his back leg through the metal part of his stall.
But if I was not prepared by having a stocked first aid kit in my barn, his outcome may not have been a happy one. Which is why I felt it important to share with you the most important items you really should have in your equine first aid kit. And you don’t have to get everything at one time, but buy a few items at a time until you have a complete kit.
This is much better than a flashlight, trust me. You have the light, but you are also able to keep both hands free, so you are able to focus on what you need to see. You can find headlamps everywhere, but my favorite is the kind that has a rechargeable battery that you can plug in. This is the best investment you can make, and the cost from $5.00 to $65.00, depending on what you want. You do get what you pay for though, so don’t be a complete cheapskate, and spend a little bit extra to get a quality lamp.
Make sure you get a horse safe thermometer, because you will need to use this rectally, pretty much the only way to check your horse’s temperature. It is also advisable to learn how to take your horses temperature, when he isn’t sick so you will know how to do it, and your horse is accustom to it so when you do need to do it, it won’t be a shock to him. Keep in mind a normal temperature for a horse is 99.5 F to 101.5 F
You really do need a stethoscope for your horse. Not only can you check his heart rate, but you can also hear gut sounds easier with a stethoscope. It doesn’t need to be a fancy $200.00 unit, you can find them at Jeffers Equine for about $5.00, and it is well worth it to have in your first aid kit. An adult horse’s normal resting heart rate is 28-44 beats per minute.
Everyone knows what vet wrap is, the bandage that sticks to its self. You don’t have to buy the vet wrap brand, but you do need to have at least 5 to 6 rolls of this in your first aid kit. You can find it at Jeffers Equine or State Line Tack for about $1.50 a roll.
There will always be a use for duct tape, especially when it comes to horses and needing around the barn. You can get a roll of duct tape for about $4.00 and it will be an investment you will be happy to have made if the need ever arises that you need it.
This is a staple in my barn. I have found the most incredible wound ointment ever for people as well as horses! It is called silvasorb gel, and you can buy it online. Amazon has it, and it isn’t cheap, but it is the absolute best and in my opinion, most important item to have in your first aid kit. It costs about $24.00 for a 3 ounce tube, but it lasts forever. This should replace any antibiotic ointment you have already been using for yourself or your animals. It has silver in it, and it is a gel (get it, silva-sorb gel???) It is actually a smart gel. It knows if a wound needs more moisture, and it will donate it, or if there is too much moisture, it will suck it up. The silver in it is nature’s antibiotic, and there is no worry if bacteria will become immune or resistant to it. It works for small cuts and scrapes, as well as large gashes. It speeds up healing, and decreases the risk of infection. So please, if you are buying Neosporin for yourself or your horses stop it now! The only ointment you should be using is Silvasorb, it is by far the best wound and burn ointment ever created.
Feminine Hygiene Pads, or ABD Pads
These work great for applying over a gash, or even creating a poultice to put on. They are absorbent, and can suck up a lot of fluid. Who knows what you may need them for, but eventually you will need them. You can buy a cheap box (or bag) of pads for about $7.00 at Walmart, or even the dollar store!
I love the Lister type bandage scissors. They make fast work of dressings, and also work great for simple things such as cutting twine, or even cutting a bridle path. You can find them on Jeffers Equine for about $6.00 a pair. And since scissors tend to disappear around my barn, I have a few pair, just in case!
You can use this for yourself, and your horse! For your horse, you can make Epsom salt soaks for a hoof abscess, or for soaking your horse’s hooves. Creating an Epsom salt soak can actually kill viruses and fungus so it is a great addition to your to your first aid kit. You can buy a bag of Epsom salt for about $2.00
First Aid Kit Box
It is also equally important to have a place to store all of your first aid supplies, so you will need some sort of box to keep all of your stuff together. You can buy a box made for storing first aid supplies, or you can get creative and make your own. I’m sure you have some sort of metal or plastic bin laying around your home that you don’t use, so you can repurpose it, and turn it into your barn first aid kit.
For myself, I had a really cool locking box that I got when I bought my drill. And since I use my drill all the time, and never keep it in the box, the box was just taking up space, I decided to put it to use. I spray painted it white, and painted a big red cross on it. Everyone seems to know a red cross is synonymous for first aid, so that’s what I did, I made a first aid box for about $5.00, and put something to use instead of throwing it away.
There are many other things you can add to your kit such as hand sanitizer, paper towels, rolled cotton, fly spray, creams and ointments, etc. But the items I have listed here are items you will use a lot, and are very important to have. You could go and buy a ready-made kit, but it won’t have the things that are specific to your needs, and they are really expensive. So take the time to make you own kit. If you were to buy everything I have listed above, you are looking at spending around $75.00. That may seem like a lot, but if you do it over a month or so, it will not be too bad. And really, think about it, your horse is worth $75.00, isn’t he?
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