First aid is one of those skills we are taught but hope to never use. Human first aid is taught to a huge range of professions, and even supermarkets and offices will have designated first aiders to come to the assistance of colleagues and customers in an emergency. With pets however the situation is slightly different. Most of us don’t have a clue what to do with our pet in an emergency or after an accident, and take them straight to the vet. This is easy with a cat, rabbit or hamster as you put it in a carrier and take it straight to the vet’s surgery. Horses pose a different set of difficulties though as putting an injured horse into a horse box is almost impossible. Therefore as a horse owner it is especially important to know the basics in order to treat your animal until professional help can get to you.
First Aid Kit
There is no need to go over the top and kit out the stable with more medical equipment than you would find in a veterinary wholesaler, but basic horse woundcare products such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, scissors, saline and a clean towel can easily be kept in a sealed box in the stables in order to be used in an emergency. Many of the products used will have expiry dates, so check the contents of the box regularly ad replace any items which are past their best. Take the kit with you in the horse box, or make up a separate kit to use while travelling.
Calling The Vet
For many injuries in the stable yard, it is best to call in the vet, and for more serious injuries this should be the first thing to do before cracking open the horse woundcare products. Horse owners who are experienced and confident in dealing with emergencies and injuries can deal with most eventualities on their own, and will only have to call in the vet for more unusual or severe injuries and accidents. There are a number of books and websites available on equine first aid, and these can be a great starting point for people trying to educate themselves a bit more about emergency horse care.
Just as in human medicine, the basic observations of respiration rate, heart rate and temperature can give an indication of problems with a horse. A high temperature could be a indication of infection, and a rapid breathing rate could mean problems with the lungs. Taking a horse’s temperature requires a special thermometer which has to be inserted into the rectum, and it is best to ask a professional to show you how to do this without causing pain or distress to the horse. The pulse is easiest to take where the main artery passes through the jaw, and again locating the exact spot can be tricky for the inexperienced horse owner. The pulse rate should be around 30 to 40 beats per minute, but this varies by horse so it is important to get to know what is normal for your animal.
The Equine Warehouse offer a large range of horse woundcare products which help you to administer first aid to your horse, in the event that you can’t get a vet immediately.