According to Lemonade’s U.S. households’ pet ownership statistics, 3.5 million American households own a horse.
You’ll inevitably have to deal with injuries when you own a horse. Whether they’re an emergency or not, knowing how to handle them is crucial for the health and well-being of your animal.
This article will teach you how to be prepared for any emergency by building a first-aid kit, learning basic first-aid techniques, creating an emergency plan, and keeping track of your horse’s medical history.
Build a First Aid Kit for Your Horse
To be prepared for a horse injury, build a first aid kit. Include items like bandages, antiseptic cream and/or iodine wipes, tweezers, scissors or clippers (and maybe even a nail file), a thermometer, and plenty of cotton balls or gauze pads.
You can also include an ice pack in case the wound needs to be cooled down. According to The Conversation, cold therapy is used for injuries that result in inflammation and swelling, like bruises, joint sprains, or muscle strains. It is most effective in the acute or immediate phase of pain when inflammation first kicks off.
Keep a DMSO Gel
One of the best things you can have in your medicine cabinet is a bottle of DMSO for horses. This topical ointment helps to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation while speeding up healing time. It’s great for treating bruises and other injuries on horses’ legs, but it also works well on infections like abscesses or thrush.
The next time you’re at the drugstore looking for something new for your horse’s boo-boos or cuts, pick up some DMSO gel and keep it handy for when you need it most.
Learn Basic First Aid Techniques
If you have basic first-aid training, take the time to learn how to use some of these techniques. If you don’t, consider taking a course. Here are some basic supplies that will come in handy:
- Pressure bandages and elastic wraps in a variety of sizes (may be purchased at your local pharmacy)
- Hoof boot (can be purchased through horse supply stores or online)
- Neck collar/sling (can be purchased through horse supply stores or online)
Have Emergency Contact Information on Hand
Most horse owners have a local veterinarian that they trust and can call in an emergency. Your veterinarian will likely be the first person you call if your horse has an accident or injury, but it is essential to have more than one contact on hand.
Keep the following phone numbers in a safe place:
- A local vet who works with horses or any animals.
- A vet that is not local but who you trust with your horse’s care. This could be someone who works at an equine hospital.
- Someone who can help you with your horse when no one else is available.
Create an Emergency Plan
If you are injured, have a plan in place for who will take care of the horse. Having an emergency plan in place can help prevent further injury or distress to everyone involved.
- Have a list of emergency contacts.
- Know where you will go if you need to leave your property.
- Know how to transport the horse if necessary (horse trailer) and make sure it is roadworthy and clean inside.
- Identify who would be responsible for providing first aid – this person should be competent at handling large animals such as horses.
Keep a Medical History of Your Horse
Keeping a medical history of your horse will help you to know what to expect when you’re dealing with an injury. It’s also a good idea to keep track of vaccinations, worming, and any other medical treatments that have been given.
Keep track of the following details:
- The horse’s age and breed.
- Any health problems he has had in the past, e.g., colic. How were they treated?
- Any vaccinations he has received, including rabies vaccines.
Know the Signs of Colic
According to Paulick Report, Colic is the most common medical problem that affects horses. It is believed that almost 50% of the medical problems of horses are characterized as “colic.”
Knowing the signs of colic can help you prepare for a visit to the vet. Colic is an acute or sudden abdominal pain in horses that can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. If your horse starts showing signs of colic or you’re worried they may have it, consider these symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Breathing difficulty (trouble breathing)
- Drooling and/or excessive salivation
- Nausea/vomiting (diarrhea)
Keep a Close Eye on Your Horse
Whether you are an experienced horse owner or not, you must be aware of your horse’s mood and behavior. If your horse has been acting strange recently, be alert when approaching them. Keep in mind that many things can cause unusual behavior in horses (e.g., a new feed), so if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
The following symptoms may indicate illness:
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor appetite
There’s no doubt that horses can be a lot of work, but with these tips, you’ll be able to keep your horse healthy and happy. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.