Equine First Aid Travel Essentials

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Posted by Lisa Skylis


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As we get ready to enjoy all that the warmer months have to offer, we should also be considering what preparations to have in place that will ensure our horse’s health and safety when on the road. An equine first-aid kit is an essential for every horse owner and should ideally be kept in either their truck or their trailer. For something more affordable and thorough, try putting together your own equine first-aid kit!

Your first step is to choose a sturdy storage container to house your first-aid kit. Some options might be to use a lidded five-gallon bucket, a plastic shoe box with a lid, a plastic dog food bin with a lid, or even an empty ammo case. Whichever you pick, your container needs to be cleaned and dried out before you can begin packing it with your supplies. Next up, you need to decide where to store your on-the-go first aid kit.

Whether you store it in your trailer or your truck, the kit should be kept somewhere it’s easy to grab - so in the event of a true emergency - it can be quickly pulled out and put to work. Now, it’s time to find some smaller-sized plastic containers with lids that can fit in your first-aid kit and keep its contents organized. Travel-sized shampoo bottles work great for this! Once washed and dried, these containers are convenient for holding gel or liquid medications and will reduce the bulk of keeping the standard, full-sized bottles in your kit. Another example to make the most of these containers would be to place all of your bandaging materials in one lidded, airtight box. Should your horse ever need it, this organization would make it much easier and faster to bandage their wound. Finally, you’re ready to fill up your on-the-go kit with all of the life-saving essentials your horse might need. 

Here’s a general list of over-the-counter supplies for your first-aid kit:

• Small Flashlight
• Tools to pull a loose shoe
• Scissors
• Tweezers or forceps 
• Stethoscope
• Thermometer
• Vetwrap
• 16” combine bandage
• 3x4 non-stick gauze pads
• Small, clean towels 
• Abd pads or sanitary napkins 
• Antibiotic wound ointment or spray 
• Antimicrobial scrub like betadine or chlorhexidine
• Large syringe (30cc) for flushing wounds 
• Saline solution  
• Gloves
• Hand sanitizer 
• Duct tape 
• Your horse’s medical records

Does this list include absolutely everything you could possibly need if a disaster strikes your horse? Of course not! In order to do that, you would end up with an entire extra trailer full of emergency supplies. This is merely a condensed list to keep stored in your trailer or truck so that you’re not completely helpless in the event of an equine emergency.

If you’re looking for a more complete kit, you may want to ask your veterinarian what medicines they would recommend adding to your on–the-go first-aid kit. Your vet might suggest some basic equine prescription medications like tranquilizers, antibiotics, corticosteroids, or anti-inflammatories. After checking with your horse’s vet, add them to your list of drugs to keep handy in your truck or trailer.

Set the Record Straight

Now prepared for any disaster, your on-the-go first-aid kit is fully stocked and safely tucked into your truck or trailer. You probably noticed that the list of essential first-aid supplies included your horse’s medical records. As the owner, it’s your responsibility to keep track of your horse’s medical records and keep them in your truck or trailer with along with the rest of the first-aid kit.

When implementing a system for your record keeping, the options are limitless. You could keep records electronically on your computer or on using the ‘notes’ app on your phone. For those less technologically savvy, you could keep track using a twelve-month wall calendar, a box of index cards that are divided into sections, or a three-ring binder with tabs or folders to divide categories. If you’re interested in a free and printable medical record form, you can use this detailed form from Doctors Foster and Smith or this simpler form from Horse Illustrated Magazine.

How you choose to organize and when you choose to record your horse’s medical records are entirely up to you, although there are a few essential categories to include in your records:

• Insurance Information - Policy Number and Contact Info
• Dental work 
• Deworming 
• Farrier work 
• Medications 
• Significant injuries or incidents 
• Veterinary visits

Apart from this basic list, here are some other types of records you may consider adding:

• Acupuncture visits 
• Allergies 
• Breeding records 
• Chiropractor visits 
• Dietary changes 
• First-aid protocols 
• Massage visits 
• Pedigree

Regardless of the method you use, be sure to select a system of record-keeping that’s easiest for you because you’ll be the one updating, organizing, and maintaining the records. When you do a great job maintaining your horse’s records, the professionals you rely on can do their job all the better! Down the road, you will be grateful you kept detailed notes on what de-wormer was most effective this spring or which hoof had the nasty abscess last fall. Keeping proper records and a closer eye on your horse’s health could even prevent you from experiencing the gut-wrenching heartache and expense of emergency veterinary care. In the event of a health emergency, these records will also make communicating between different horse health professionals much smoother and more effective. In the long run, you will save yourself and your horse’s healthcare professionals time and you might even save your horse’s life!

About the Author:
Lisa Skylis graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Animal Science. She is a professional freelance writer and Lisa’s work largely focuses on the equine industry. When she’s not writing, Lisa can be found doting on the horses at her local therapeutic riding barn or entertaining her mischievous Golden Retriever, Roy. Freelance inquiries can be sent to skylisli@msu.edu.

Photo - Valleyvet.com