If you’re a new horse owner, you’ll quickly learn that your horse is an accident looking for an opportunity to happen. Yessiree, Bob.
Your horse will always be coming in with a swollen knee after a kick from a pasture mate, tearing his skin open on a nail protruding from the fence (which you’d swear wasn’t there this morning) and getting his muzzle scratched in an incident with a territorial thorn bush.
Horses don’t get into accidents, you say? If you don’t have your vet on speed-dial yet, you soon will.
Below, the horse on the left (from Epic Horse Fail) decided to jump out of the feed door rather than use the actual door. Why? Who knows. On the right (from Smell Horsey), this genius is thinking, “They told me to grab a seat…” and doesn’t see any problem with the solution he came up with.
On the upside, you’ll quickly get skilled at giving first aid. A few years of being a horse owner and you’ll be an expert at cleaning wounds, wrapping legs and giving injections.
You should also become practised at taking your horse’s vitals because that’s how you’re gonna get some basic but vital information about your horse.
Sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a situation, where you wish you’d have a first aid kit handy.
Cuts and scrapes are frequent when you’re working in a stable and around horses, so investing in a first aid kit both for humans and for horses is a great idea!
10 reasons you should have a first aid kit
- Accidents are always unexpected. Knowing that you’re prepared and have the right tools and materials to treat injuries will give you peace of mind.
- Time is of the essence. With a first aid kit handy you will be able to treat immediate injuries while you wait for help. Having a first aid kit and being able to respond immediately can help prevent further injury and can even mean the difference between life and death.
- Small injuries can become significant injuries. Immediate treatment can prevent minor injuries from becoming bigger injuries. The longer you wait to act, the worse the situation can get.
- We (horses AND humans) have a limited amount of blood. If an injury involves blood-loss, you only have seconds to stop the bleeding. Having a first aid kit at hand will give you the precious moments you need to seek further help.
- Kids will be kids. Cuts, scrapes and burns are a part of life with kids around. Having a first aid kit that can take care of them as they occur, will make sure that everyone’s experience at the stables is as good as possible. Parents will also feel more assured when they know that minor injuries get taken care of quickly and skillfully.
- Liability. Often insurance requires that businesses keep first aid supplies readily available. Other than that, it is great service and increased public safety to have a well-stocked first-aid kit.
- Protect the people you care about. An up to date and well-stocked first aid kit can save a life. When working with large animals, there is always a risk that someone can get hurt. Train your staff to know how to use the supplies in the first aid kits and have the locations of the first aid kits marked visibly. Have first aid kits for both horses and humans.
- Respond when there is no help near. There is never a good place or time to get hurt, but when help is out of reach or far away, a first aid kit is your best friend. You can’t always count on help being readily available, so it’s best to be prepared.
- Cost savings. It’s cheaper to clean and bandage a cut than it is to travel to a clinic seeking first aid. A first aid kit is designed to deal with all kinds of cuts, scrapes and burns so make sure to keep yours well stocked and ready to go.
- Peace of mind. Having well-stocked first aid kits available when the need for them arises will give you and everyone else using the stables peace of mind that you’re prepared for any situation.
You’ll feel better knowing that you can help someone in need, maybe even yourself!
It’s a good idea to stock your first aid kits generously and check that they’re up to date regularly. You can have one first aid kit in the car, another in the stables and even a portable one to take on rides.
What should be in a first aid kit for horses?
Whether you need a band-aid, a rope or a compression bandage, it’s much less stressful to have them all in one place when you find yourself in need of them.
The supplies should be kept in a clean box with a secure lid. If possible, keep it in a dust-free area to prevent the supplies inside the box getting dirty.
A cupboard is a great place to store a first aid kit, and it is recommended to replace the items as you use them or as they expire.
Mark the spot where the first aid supplies are so that it’s visible from a distance and can be found at a glance.
If you put the box in a cupboard, print out a page with the first aid kit symbol and tape it to the door where the box is located. You can also buy wall-mountable first aid cupboards that are clearly marked and have handy compartments for the supplies.
You can write a list of everything the first aid kit should contain and tape it to the inside of the lid of the first aid box or cupboard – this way it will be easy to see what the box contains in a hurry, and it will also make re-stocking easy.
You can put essential telephone numbers such as the vet, insurance company and emergency numbers on the inside of the lid. Click here for a free printable sheet.
A full first aid kit can be more substantial and kept at home or in the stable, and a smaller kit can accompany you and your horse whenever you’re travelling.
Any size aid kit should be portable because you never know where an injury is going to take place and running back and forth between the injury and the first aid kit will be slower than just having the kit there with you.
Essential items in a horse first aid kit
- Thermometer – digital or mercury (digital is better for speed).
- Lubricants – like petroleum jelly or Vaseline for the thermometer.
- Antiseptic cleaning solution – for irrigating wounds.
- Antiseptic ointment – sometimes wounds can be encouraged to heal by keeping them moisturised and bacteria-free.
- A clean set of leg wraps – to tie wounds, tails, splints and cold packs with.
- Absorbent padding (leg cotton, gauze, gamgee cloth etc.) – to stop bleeding.
- Blunt tipped scissors – for cutting absorbent padding into the right length and shape.
- A flashlight – for use when there isn’t enough light. Make sure your batteries are always charged or get a batteryless flashlight.
- Cold packs – to prevent and reduce swelling; instant cold packs can be kept at room temperature whereas freezer packs require a freezer and need to be wrapped in something to prevent direct contact with the skin.
- Band-aids – for minor cuts and scrapes. Be sure to restock these often.
Having a portable first aid kit means you can take it with you on long hacks and not be caught off guard if an injury occurs.
You should also make sure to regularly check and restock a kit so that it’s always full – this is especially important when several people are using the same kit.
If you’re not sure what’s in the kit, take inventory to see what’s missing.
Additional items for a horse first aid kit
- Clean towels – to stop bleeding.
- Rubber buckets with handles – for soaking feet, carrying water and coaxing back runaway horses with food.
- Blankets – in case of cold or shock a person or animal should be kept warm.
- Sterile saline solution – for irrigating eyes or wounds.
- Half a roll of plastic wrap – works as a non-stick cover for wounds.
- Duct tape or sports tape – when leg wraps aren’t enough to do the job (when making a splint for instance).
- Nippers – for cutting off loose shoes.
- Hoof pick – to remove foreign objects from hooves. A foldable hoof pick can be carried in a pocket or attached to the saddle at all times.
- Antiseptic skin glue – for wounds that cannot be stitched (it might sting before it dries).
- Fly repellents – to deter insects.
- Small tweezers – handy for pulling out splinters or other small objects.
- A pen and pad – to write down the temperature when monitoring it.
- Change for a phone call or an emergency cell phone – even though most people have cell phones these days, you might still get caught out of range or run out of battery. A very basic model cell phone can be fully charged, turned off (turn on without a pin code) and kept in the box for emergencies.
- Halter and rope – a halter, or a rope that can be fashioned into a halter, for leading a horse with in case of an emergency.
- Length of rope – at least 5 metres long.
- Hoof boot – for covering the hoof in an emergency, you should have at least one for each foot.
- Fly mask – for keeping insects out of facial wounds.
- Electrolytes – for replenishing a hard-working horse you can use a paste in small quantities at a time.
- Prescribed medicines – if you or your horse has a prescription make sure you always have an extra pack handy.
- Epsom salts – to make soaks and poultices to draw out infection.
- Disposable gloves – to put on before treating a wound to prevent contamination.
- Wire cutters – to free horses from fences.
- PVC pipes – 15 cm (6 in) in diameter pipes can serve as emergency splints if cut to about 60 cm (24 in) in length and then cut in half lengthwise
Free printable sheets
Download and print these free sheets for your stable or barn.