Accidents and emergencies happen to many horses sooner or later, no matter how good your paddock and stable management are.  So if you have horses it’s always wise to be prepared. 

This means that every horse owner should have at least a basic first aid kit, and if there are more than a few horses, a complete first aid kit. 

The up-to-date contact numbers of your veterinarian and any other people who could be useful in an emergency (like your neighbours, and all the horse owners) should be clearly on display in a prominent place, and maybe also in or on the first aid kit. 

All the responsible people who work on your farm and all those who deal with the horses and farm animals should know where the first aid kits are and how to open them. 

First aid kits

  • Basic first aid kits should contain emergency dressings and ointments to treat wounds and stop blood flow until further treatment can be carried out.
  • Complete first aid kits contain a more comprehensive set of dressings, medicines, and other equipment designed to apply first aid and treat injuries.

Basic first aid kits

Basic kits can be stored in a small toolbox or plastic carry box for quick access and transport to injured horses.  They can easily be stored in the float and taken to all outings and events. 

Suggested contents:

  • 2 x rolls of gauze bandage
  • 1 x roll of cotton wool
  • 1 x non-stick gauze dressing (a sanitary pad is a cheap alternative!)
  • 1 x roll of elastic stretch bandage
  • 1 x roll of elastic adhesive bandage
  • 1 x scissors
  • 1 x iodine spray (i.e. tamed Iodine)

Complete first aid kits

Complete kits are best stored in a large fold-out tool or fishing box, or in a medicine chest or cupboard in the stables. 

Keep the kit replenished and in a place out of reach of young children. 

Avoid locking the kit in the case of an emergency.  However, where the first aid kit doubles as a complete medicine chest it is best to keep it locked or well secured against children or theft.

Suggested contents:

  • General contents:
    • 2 x rolls of gauze bandage
    • 1 x large roll of cotton wool
    • 2 x crepe bandages (4-inch thick)
    • 2 x rolls of elastic stretch bandage
    • 2 x rolls of elastic adhesive bandage
    • 5 x non-stick gauze dressing pads
    • 1 x 100g petroleum jelly
  • For cleansing:
    • 1 x 100g salt (for making up 1% solution saline with sterile water)
    • 1 x Otocleanse solution (or similar) for cleaning wounds
  • Specialised medicines:
    • 1 x iodine tincture spray (e.g. Vetadine)
    • 1 x Equigold (antiseptic ointment) or Bioderm (anti-bacterial ointment)
  • Equipment:
    • 1 x 15 cm curved blunt/sharp-dressing scissors for cutting bandages, etc.
    • 1 x plastic dish for antiseptic solutions
    • 1 x teaspoon (plastic) as a 5g or 5 ml measure
    • 1 x clean hand towel or paper towelling for wiping hands
    • 1 x 20-60ml sterile syringe barrel for flushing wounds
    • 1 x clinical thermometer (35 - 42º C “stubby” bulb - keep in a cool place, not the float or car)
  • Additional Equipment:
    • 1 x supply of ice cubes (freezer) and a plastic bag
    • 1 x hot/cold packs
    • 1 x tube eye ointment (e.g. golden eye ointment)
    • 1 x nose twitch
    • 1 x halter and lead rope

Emergency equipment:

As well as having first aid kits readily available, it’s wise to have a set of equipment to deal with some of the other crises that can occur, as the horse caught in a wire fence or the horse that’s cast in a box.  This is especially important on studs, training, and livery stables properties where there is often the excitement of horses coming and going.

  • 1 x pair of wire cutters for cutting wire or fencing
  • 1 x hacksaw and spare blade for cutting steel pipe rails or fence posts
  • 1 x 6-meter rope for helping a cast horse back onto its feet

Remember that the best insurance against an accident is to be well prepared for it.  With luck, it will never happen!