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Equine first-aid essentials

Knowing how to handle an emergency can make all the difference.

Injuries and illness are an unfortunate part of horse care. But being prepared to give your horse first aid could make a big difference in the outcome of the situation. Every horse owner needs basic first-aid essentials. In such circumstances, before putting any of these tools to use, contact a veterinarian so they can assess the situation.

Keep these useful horse supplies on hand while waiting for the vet to arrive:

  1. Bandages: Protect wounds, provide support to muscles and hold ice packs with horse leg wraps or self-adhesive bandages. An assortment of bandaging materials are helpful to have on hand. Add the following to your first aid kit: cotton padding and nonstick gauze, duct tape and disposable diapers, sterile gauze and elastoplast, white adhesive medical tape, plastic wrap and cotton leg wraps.
  2. Buckets: Soak hooves and clean wounds with buckets kept specifically for first aid use.
  3. Diluted iodine: Any scrapes, cuts or puncture wounds can be flushed out with diluted iodine and covered to keep them from drying until the vet comes to treat them. 
  4. Electrolytes: Prevent dehydration by having an Electrocharge™ on hand. Electrocharge™ is a concentrated blend of electrolytes and trace mineral salts that helps promote healthy hydration in horses. 
  5. Flashlight: At nighttime or early morning, a flashlight might be necessary to assess the problem. 
  6. Fly repellant: Keep flies away from an open wound that can't be covered with a bandage. Be sure to apply repellant around the wound, not directly on it. 
  7. Hemostat: Hemostats are meant to remove splinters, burrs and thistles from a horse's skin.
  8. Hoof pick: Remove foreign objects from hooves and shoes with a hoof pick. Additionally, regular use of a pick helps keep the hooves healthy by removing objects or dirt clumps that can make walking uncomfortable and even painful for a horse. 
  9. Ice pack: Ice packs will help reduce swelling. 
  10. PVC Pipes: Cut 6-inch​-diameter piping in half legnthwise and then into 1.5- to 2-foot sections for use as an emergency splint.
  11. Rubbing alcohol: Use this to disinfect thermometers, scissors and other horse supplies.
  12. Scissors or knife: It's a good idea to keep something for cutting bandaging materials or freeing a horse caught in a rope. Always exercise caution when using scissors around your horse. 
  13. Stethoscope: A horse's heartbeat can be heard the loudest behind its left elbow. The normal heart rate for a horse is 25-45 beats per minute. Ponies may have a slightly faster normal heart rate. A stethoscope is also useful for listening to gut sounds. This is a must-have for any barn. 
  14. Surgical gloves: These will help owners keep their hands clean and prevent wound contamination. 
  15. Thermometer: If the horse looks sick, keeping a thermometer on hand allows owners to assess if the horse has a normal temperature. Normal horse temperature is between 99 and 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Note: Taking a horse's temperature routinely when it is healthy will help determine what is normal for the horse.
  16. Wire cutter: Use this item to free your horse from fences. 
  17. Wound antiseptic: Prevent infections with a sulfur antiseptic powder, ointment or Fura-Free™. In addition, it's not a bad idea for owners to keep tampons available to stop the bleeding in puncture wounds. 

After any incident, horse owners should see their vet immediately. 

Fura-Free™ is a safe sweat and salve that helps promote healthy skin, and it's Nitrofurazone free.  Fura-Free™ protects and soothes minor cuts, scrapes, burns and cracked heels.

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