Equine First Aid Essentials

Posted by wormers-direct on 15th Mar 2024

Equine First Aid Essentials

Every horse owner should have basic first aid skills, as you just never know when an emergency might strike and providing immediate care can make a huge difference to the final outcome. In this guide we will look at some of the essential elements of equine first aid, giving you the knowledge needed to handle some common ailments.

Vital Signs For Horses

Before looking at first aid techniques, it is important to understand the normal vital signs of horses such as temperature, pulse and respiration rate. These all vary from horse to horse, so make sure you know what is normal for your horse. Usually a horse’s temperature ranges from 37.5 - 38.5 degrees Celsius, their heart rate is 36-40 beats per minute, and their respiration rate is between 8-15 breaths per minute. Make sure you record these figures for your own horse when they are at rest, and store the numbers in a safe place.

Common Equine Emergencies

1. Wounds & cuts: treating these all depends on the size and depth, but you should always clean the wound with water to start with and quickly apply pressure if the bleeding continues. If you are unable to stop the bleeding then consult your vet.

2. Colic: usually a vet should be called immediately, but while you are waiting for their arrival keep monitoring your horse’s signs and behaviour. Remove all food and water, and try to keep your horse walking in an open space to prevent them rolling and twisting their gut further.

3. Lameness: initially check your horse’s legs for heat and swelling, as well as tenderness. Apply cold therapy to reduce inflammation and keep your horse rested to stop them making the injury worse. If your horse has swelling and isn’t showing any signs of lameness, keep them moving to encourage circulation.

4. Choking: horses don’t have a gag reflex, so if they get something stuck in their throat you will have to manually remove the foreign object from their throat. Encourage your horses to lower his head, and gently massage the throat to encourage the movement of the stuck object. Quickly phone the vet for help, or if you can’t remove the blockage.

5. Eye injuries: flush out the eye with fresh, salty water by wringing out a cotton wool pad just above the eye so the solution falls over the eye. Don’t attempt to remove anything that is stuck in your horse’s eye, just keep it covered with a clean, damp cloth and wait for your vet.

First Aid Kit Essentials

Every horse owner should have a well-stocked first aid kit, and remember to replace any item you use immediately otherwise you may be missing items when an emergency happens. Here are some essential items you should have:

Lincoln First Aid Bag

Prevention Is Key

Although knowing how to administer equine first aid is crucial, it is always best to avoid emergencies altogether. By scheduling regular vet, farrier and dentist appointments you can keep on top of your horse’s health. Good nutrition, and maintaining a safe, clean environment for your horse can help to reduce the risk of injury and illness too.

By familiarising yourself with common equine emergencies, you will be better equipped should anything happen on your yard. Always make sure your equine first aid kit is well stocked too, allowing your horse to receive prompt care. In the event of an emergency, try to remain calm and logical to help reduce further stress and harm to your horse. They sense our emotions, so try to be a stable source of support for them.

Head over to the Wormers-Direct website for all your equine first aid essentials, we are well stocked up!