Horse owners often make the statement; “It was not in my first aid kit when I needed it; now what is it I should have in there?” As everyone who owns a horse has discovered, if there is a place or a way to get hurt your horse will find it. The answer to what should be in a first aid kit, is a bit variable based upon whether or not the kit is for the barn or for travel and what you do with your horse when you travel.

A kit for the barn might be more extensive, as size and portability are not a problem. But for most of us, when it comes to travel, we would like for the kit to be small and compact, yet adequately supplied. For those that travel to remote trail rides, there might be some different and additional needs from those that travel to well attended horse shows, rodeos or other events.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are also used. These drugs reduce the inflammation that occurs in the eye from the injury. Flunixin meglumine (Banamine), Phenylbutazone or more frequently known as “Bute” and aspirin are the most commonly used NSAID for the eye. The one we use and the duration of therapy depends on the degree of inflammation and how the horse responds to the therapy.

  • The following is a list of essential items for any first aid kit:
  • Thermometer (rectal with string and clip)
  • Hemostats
  • Stethoscope
  • Sharp blunt ended bandage scissors
  • Flashlight (with fresh batteries)
  • Gauze pads (4×4 inch) *
  • Non Adherent Pads *
  • Cotton Roll
  • Stretch gauze *
  • Vetrap (or similar self stick product)
  • Elasticon (stretch adhesive bandage)
  • Medical adhesive tape (one and two inch)
  • Cold pack
  • Stable bandage and quilts
  • Antiseptic solution (Betadine or Nolvasan Solution)
  • Antiseptic wound creme (Nitrofurazone or Nolvasan ointment)
  • Wound creme with fly repellent (such as swat)
  • Alcohol (pint bottle)
  • Saline solution
  • Lubricating jelly (KY)
  • Latex exam gloves
  • Poultice (Animalintex is perfect, as it comes in sheets and is hydrated either hot or cold as needed)
  • Disposable diapers (hoof wrap)
  • Duct tape
  • Paste Banamine (flunixin megalumine) ( A Prescription Drug you should discuss with your veterinarian)

* These items should be sterile

The following list of additional items may come in handy for those who “travel off the beaten path” whether to rodeo in remote locations or to trail ride.

  • Easy Boots, Old Mac Boots or the equivalent
  • Twitch
  • Hoof knife
  • Farrier rasp
  • Farrier shoe pullers or nippers
  • Hoof testers
  • 6″ diameter PVC pipe cut in ½ the long way and then sectioned into length of 1½ to 2 feet long (for use as a splint should the need arise)
  • Tail wrap
  • Acepromazine (tablets or granules used for mild sedation)

Your kit should also contain some basic information, including a list that has all important telephone numbers you might need, a first aid guide book or chart, as well as a check sheet of what items should be stocked in the kit. These First Aid kits have a tendency to be “raided” and so check for all items before packing for a trip. Remember medications within your emergency first aid kit need to be checked for expiration dates. Having some of these items in your kit will be of no benefit if you do not know how to use or apply them. Review first aid procedures and practice placing a proper bandage on your horses leg on a regular basis, you will find that this little bit of review can save you from tension and anxiety when faced with an equine emergency. The drugs on this list should be administered only in conjunction with or on the advice of a veterinarian; never try to self diagnose. Banamine is an excellent anti-inflammatory and is also an excellent pain reliever in cases of colic. That being said remember, the banamine may mask signs and make diagnosis difficult for the veterinarian, and it will take 45 – 60 minutes for the banamine to take effect, thus if the veterinarian will be there prior to this consult with them before administration of the drug. Acepromazine is a mild tranquilizer and may be of aid in the calming of an excited horse. This tranquilizer is also a vasodilator and so should be used under supervision especially in the case of severe blood loss or shock.

You should know the values of vital signs for your horse, along with the normal values for adult horses. These values are:

Temperature: 99.5 – 101.5 F
Heart Rate: 30-40 beats/minute
Respiratory Rate: 8-10 breaths/minute
Capillary Refill Time: < 2 seconds

Whether you are climbing the hills of the Rocky Mountains, weaving your way through the terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains, loping in the ring at the National Western Stock Show, or rodeoing in Reno remember that you should always be equipped for your horse’s safety. Always bring a fully stocked first aid kit and know your horse’s norms. You never know when he or she may step on that loose rock, knock his knee on the way out of the trailer or find a place to cut or mangle himself, so be prepared.