Updated: Oct 8, 2022
Have you found yourself googling what do I need in my horses first aid kit? Well your not the only one!
Every horseperson I have ever met has at some point talked about their first aid kit, whether it was needing more Vetwrap or asking for something out of it or trying to gather info from other sources to figure out what else they needed or asking to borrow something out someone else's kit at a horse show!– Its almost a rite of passage to being a horseperson.
So, What you need in an Equine First Aid Kit!?
Equine first aid kits are a vital part of horse ownership, but with so much information out on the web and so many things we COULD need its so hard to know what we DO need. Eventually after a long period of time you figure out what works best for you but perhaps not everyone or your simply just trying to revamp your current kit and add some new items!
Building your first aid kit shouldn't feel overwhelming and when you get right down to it, it doesn't need to be fancy, but it does need to effectively aid you in an emergency. As a first aid instructor and working in vet-med as well as my life working with horses I've encountered my fair share of emergencies and I have definitely seem some, ish! if your confidence is wavering at all with what do in an emergency or how to effectively and creatively use these items during an emergency we offer classes from kids classes all the way to backcountry horsepeople and how to prepare you and your facility for a disaster as well. My goal is to help empower you and make scary and sometimes dangerous situations as simple and manageable as possible and give you the confidence to be able to deal with all things horse-from rehabbing to evacuation measures, I got you!
Things to Consider When Building Your Kit!
A first aid kit can be your saving grace in an emergency and a vital piece of equipment in any barn or trailer for that matter. So before we get into the nitty gritty of building your kit, let's quickly go over some other important aspects to consider. It's important to make your kits easy to access and open, just trust me on this, there's nothing worse then struggling to open your kit when your horse is injured. Now consider the landscape of your barn and property does it make sense to have a big kit on rollers or should it be easy to carry to your horse, in this case size does matter. Another one to consider is if the contents of your kit are okay to freeze if they aren't don't put them in your kit. And one of the most important parts to consider is the relationship you have with your Veterinarian, this can make things a little bit different since some vets like and dislike certain products and many vets if not all don't want you to apply creams and ointments onto wounds until after they have seen them.
The most important part to remember,
When it comes to first aid its vital to set it up in a matter that makes sense, you don't need 15 rolls of Vetwrap, but you should have an emergency contact list with your vet information and the address to your facility or current location. And it definitely doesn't hurt to have an inventory list made so you know when you need to replace an item, preferably before you need to use it. Remember the acronym "KISS!" (Keep It Simple Stupid!) This guide is here to help simplify making a first aid kit as well as make practical implementations so that in case of an emergency you are setup for success!
So lets keep this simple shall we? .
Natural Presence Equine Solutions is partnered with Equi-Health Canada to provide training for correct use of the following equine first aid products and protocols to follow! check out our courses! Courses & Services
The First Aid Kit: What Are the Inner Workings of a Great Kit?
This Is a comprehensive list of equine first aid items that you could ever need for any kind of barn emergency, when assembling your kit make sure you include the essential items (red) and as your budget permits expand your kit to include the other items if your space allows
Equine Vitals Card - Quick access to horse vitals just incase in the heat of the moment you forget! I also carry vitals card!
Self-adhesive bandages/Vetwrap - to secure and protect dressings, hold bandages in place
Stethoscope - inexpensive ones can be purchased through medical supply stores or local pharmacies for under $30
Blunt-tipped scissors -Safely cut away and remove bandages and wraps
Weight tape/soft tape measure - use to calculate weight of horse for medication dosage
Sterile gauze pads - at least 3x3, as when it comes to horses bigger is better!
Diapers - an alternative bandage layer or temporary boot
Thick sanitary pads/maxi-pads - super absorbent, good for applying direct pressure to a bleeding wound
Tampons - insert into puncture wounds
Razors - to shave hairs around wounds
Tube Sock - cut out toes and cover bandages for protection, spray with fly spray to keep insects away
Garbage bags - cover large wounds; cleanup; great for open/ Sucking chest wounds
Duck tape - useful in any emergency; especially good for hoof wraps, as it's water-resistant,moldable and fairly durable
Pen/Notepad - write down vitals, important phone numbers
Gauze roll - such as Kling, used as an absorbent bandage layer
Buckets/Rubber tubs- for hoof soaking, keep separately for first aid use
Forceps/Tweezers - remove splinters, burrs, thistles, ticks and more from your horses skin
Hoof pick - you can never have to many
Flashlight/headlamp - to help you see wounds in low light conditions or in a dark field at mid-night, because horses
hot/Ice packs - alleviates heat and muscle pain; useful when cold hosing an injury isn't possible
Rectal Veterinary Thermometer or Digital Thermometer - which is safer and gives faster readings
Bulldog clip - for rectal veterinary thermometers.
Lubricant - mineral oil or vaseline works for thermometers and for protecting the horses heels from chapping if you have to cold-hose an injury for multiple days
PVC pipes - cut 6" diameter piping in half lengthwise and then into 1-11/2" to 2 foot sections for use as an emergency splint, I recommend wrapping them in Vetwrap before use
Rubbing alcohol - sterilizing instruments and thermometers as well as alleviate pain and itch of stings and bites and sooth sore joints and muscles
Alcohol swabs - Prepping injection sites; cleaning small wounds
Hand sanitizer - when you don't have access to a hose to prevent spread of germs
Wet wipes - use to pre-clean wounds if really dirty; Clean your hands
Facemask - minimize exposure to odours from necrotic tissue, for example or to protect yourself from spray from wounds/blood/pus
Antiseptic mouthwash - can be used for bug relief, on scratches and thrush as well as rain rot and bot eggs, I find the Original Listerine works the best
Sheet or Roll Cotton - and absorbent bandage layer on smaller wounds
Cotton swabs - clean small or delicate wounds
60CC syringes - flush wounds; administer oral fluids or oral pastes
Peroxide - its bubbling action is good for cleaning dirt out of wounds and dealing with thrush; don't use it routinely on a healing wound as it will inhibit the healing process
Iodine - or an antiseptic scrub such as Betadine (povidone-iodine, or "tamed" iodine) or Nolvasan (chlorhexidine)
Blood Stop - helps stop serious bleeding wounds
Aloe wound gel - great for healing wounds naturally, as it has minerals, vitamins, amino acids and a very strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties
Antiseptic wound cream - like Hibitane cream or Furacin Ointment, unpasteurized honey works too!
Spray bottle - fill with soap and water to clean delicate wounds
Scrub brush - with soft bristles to clean larger wounds
Lint-free washcloths - dry your hands or to clean and scrub wounds; pat wound dry
Plastic wrap - sterile and non-toxic, use as a single layer wound dressing to prevent wound contamination, fluid losses and pain from swelling
Surgical gloves/latex gloves - keep your hands clean and help prevent wound contamination
Wire cutters - free your horse from fences
Chalk/Lipstick - marking sore spots upon investigation of pain
Liniment - like Dynamint or Mineral Ice - Alleviates heat and muscles pains
Rope - use as a lead or emergency halter if you don't have one
Treats - entice, calm, distract, reward
Other essentials to keep on hand and easily accessible!
Electrolytes - helps hydrate hard-working horses
Fly mask- Protect face wounds and eye from insects
Eye Donut - you can make one at home using polo wraps made into a "donut" big enough to comfortably fit around the horses eye to protect the eye while waiting for the vet to arrive
Hoof boot -treat abscess and sore feet with a convenient boot kit such as HOOfix kit or HOOfix emergency trail boots amongst many other brands available
Medicated Shampoo - Kill bacteria and fungi on your horse's skin and coat with iodine-based shampoo
Poultice - draw out infections, soothe sore muscles, and more with a poultice, such as epsom salts ( Magnesium sulfate) or Icetight.
Tail wrap - protect your horse's tail and keep it out of your way
Standing Wraps - wrapping horses legs during stall rest
Twitch/stud chain - used to keep your horse's attention while wound are tended
Table Salt/Saline Solution - used for cleaning wounds in delicate places like around the eyes, a bottle with a squirt nozzle is perfect for this; you can also make your own using distilled water and table salt in a pressure pump bottle for irrigation or a spray bottle
Medical Adhesive tape - for securing certain bandages
Add-ons *After discussion and approval from your veterinarian*
With proper training and experience and after building a relationship with your veterinarian some will approve for you to keep the following;
How to Store: I made my Kit, now what?
Congratulations on successfully building your own first aid kit! It’s time for you to figure out where it's going to live until you need it next. So now that your kit is all put together and you are happy with it. Knowing the right place to store it is the next challenge, ideally it should be kept in a safe convenient place away from anything like pets or horses and in an area that everyone can access it and knows where it is and make sure it always goes back to the same designated place!
I have touched on a lot of different aspects of creating the best first aid kit. And hopefully it was helpful from covering the landscape of the property, your relationship with your vet and how to practically implement all of these different ideas. If you want to learn more about Equine Health and Emergency First Aid or our other courses click here. If you're interested in learning about Equine Rehabilitation and our other services such as equine sport therapy click here.
If you found this post helpful or you have other topics you would like me to cover please leave a comment, I am always looking for more content ideas and I am more than happy to to accommodate new ideas!
To read more about Equi-health Canada and what they are doing to help to equine industry and horse owners then click this link: About Equi-health Canada