Things you need in your horse’s first aid kit
I find that my horse’s first aid kit, or vet kit, is a dynamic structure – always changing when I toss expired items or when I add more, likely due to a quick trip to the drug store for some needed item. Usually at a late hour.
- It’s a great idea to rummage through your vet kit a few times a year to check for expired things and maybe things that should be expired. Also, check the temperature ranges of your medications and potions, as extreme cold and heat can render those items useless.
- Anything that separates into layers is a good candidate for disposal, even before the expiration date. Some things, like hoof dressings, can be mixed up and used, while others need to be pitched into the trash bin.
I use a toolbox that I found at a home improvement center for my horse’s vet stuff. I store the larger items like buckets, boots, fly masks, in a larger trunk.
Recommended Equine First Aid Kit Contents
- Thermometer – you must know your horse’s normal temperature, and the rest of his TPR, too. Digital thermometers are good as long as the battery works. Have a shake-down thermometer as a backup. You can find them without mercury.
- Stethoscope – to listen to gut sounds and take a heart rate. It’s tempting to listen to gut sounds by squishing your ear to your horse, but I can confidently share that this doesn’t work with a colicky horse. You must be at arms distance to stay out of the hoof strike zone.
- Betadine solution or scrub – for wound cleaning. I also like to have chlorhexidine for wounds and toss some chlorhexidine into my grooming brush washing solution.
- Saline – for wound flushing. This is the most gentle way to clean wounds.
- Big syringes (60 cc) – great to use for squirting wound cleaner into hard-to-reach places, also great to use to dose oral medications.
- Gauze pads/gauze roll – for wound bandaging. Think extra long here, horses are giants, and a short roll gets used up quickly.
- Non-stick wound pad – to place just next to the wound, feminine pads work well also.
- Sheet cotton – for wrapping legs and packing hooves. You may want standing wraps and quilts for support, prevention of stocking up, and keeping wounds clean instead of cotton batting.
- Elastic wound tape – such as vetrap or Elastikon for dozens of reasons. Elastikon is wildly sticky, especially if you leave it in your hot car for a bit.
- Waterproof tape – heavy-duty tape great for securing small bandages. Electrical tape has stretch and give, and is the safest to use.
- Bandage scissors – for scissoring. Safer than pointy scissors.
- Hoof Pick – because horses. An attached brush is ideal.
- Show Touch Up Spray – to mark emergency instructions on your horse. Sharpie markers on hooves are not readable when a horse is running. Your phone number along his neck will be.
- Pen/Pencils with a notepad – to write down special instructions and log any medications. Also note any other health trends, from diet to vital signs.
- Flashlight with batteries – because things usually happen at night. Head lanterns are ideal so you can still have two free hands.
Using corded clippers for a vet kit is better than a dead battery for your cordless! Also, make sure your clipper blades are in top form.
Extra supplies for your horse’s first aid kit.
- Clippers – some wounds need hair-free areas for medication application. Trimmers and body clippers are great for wounds.
- Disposable gloves – it’s always messy.
- Shoe pulling equipment/tools – just in case. A quick lesson from your farrier about pulling shoes won’t hurt either.
- Diapers (~size 5) – great for wounds, packing hooves. If there is any chance that diaper will get wet, you will have a giant mess on your hands.
- Ice pack and heat packs- to reduce swelling. No freezer is complete without ice packs.
- Poultice – for hooves and for tendons. There are lots of styles – from Epsom salt to regular clay.
- Needles and Syringes (aka “sharps”) – to administer medications.
- Cotton balls – for small wound cleaning.
- Empty 5L fluid bag or special bag for soaking hooves. Abscesses hit hard and fast, with much pain.
- Electrolytes – I like the paste version in a pinch. If your horse needs his food-restricted, you can easily dose without needing something to mix it with.
- Twitch – You can make one from baling twine and a double-ended snap. Make a loop of twine at one end of the snap, use that to twist your horse’s nose. Clip the other end to his halter. Twitches have a tiny window of effectiveness – use with caution.
- Fly mask – for eye injuries, you want a clean mask to cover the injury. Duct tape can be placed over one eye if UV light needs to be blocked.
- Bucket – for mixing wound cleaning solutions, you want a bucket without shampoo residue, horse food bit, and general barn dirt.
- Spider bandage – for strangely located wounds.
- Your favorite all-purpose cream or ointment – like a diaper rash cream. A&D ointments are good, they have so many uses at the barn.
- Hoof boot – after a sprung shoe or hoof damage, this will protect his hoof and allow for easier movement.
Potential Medications to Keep on Hand:
- Dipyrone (Metamizole) – anti-spasmodic & mild analgesic.
- Banamine (Flunixin Meglamine) – strong analgesic & antipyretic.
- Bute (Phenylbutazone) – great anti-inflammatory.
- PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN ON THE DOSES FOR YOUR HORSE! And lessons in how to administer them. Most pain meds can be given orally; you may not need a syringe and needles.
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3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope, Black Edition Chestpiece, Black Tube, 27 inch, 5803 – For finding heart rate and gut sounds
Sore No More Liniment Bottle – pick your size
Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Black – thick-soled hoof boot for riding and hoof wrapping.
EasyCare Easyboot Glove Soft Hoof Boot – these boots are designed for riding, not hoof packing, and have a more precise fit.
Hoof Wraps Brand Bandage – Affordable wrap for hoof protection
Intrepid International Hock Shield Protector, Horse – for hock sore prevention and healing
Sox for Horses – for any skin funk, fly problems, summer sore, stomping, etc.
Perri’s Standing Bandages, Pack of 4 – so many colors to choose from
Durasole – for hoof hardening
Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Lithium Clipper – this includes the 5 in 1 blade that goes from a #9 to a #40. Perfect for designs!