When you own and/or ride a horse or pony, you quickly amass a variety of horse care products. Perhaps some of the most essential items are those that make up an equine first aid kit. Everyone should have a first aid kit in their tack room and ideally one in the horsebox too, so that you’re well equipped to act fast if your horse becomes injured. Remember riders get injured too, so make sure there are items in your first aid kit to treat human wounds as well.
Vet Alistair Love MRCVS shares his list of essential horse care products to include in your first aid kit below. Don’t forget to replace products you use so that your first aid kit is always well stocked. It’s useful to keep a copy of contact numbers for your vet and farrier, as well your horse’s owner and yard manager (if applicable) so that they’re quick to access in an emergency situation too.
Essential horse care products
Alistair recommends that the following products are stored somewhere clean, dry and within easy reach when you need it urgently:
- Cotton wool for compression of bleeding wounds, or for cleaning wounds. It’s also a handy, soft, absorbent layer for a bandage.
- A bottle of Hibiscrub is helpful for using in low concentrations for wound cleaning.
- A poultice is always handy — these can be used to help a horse with a corn, solar bruising and, of course, for an abscess.
- A primary non-stick dressing, like Melolin, to put on a wound before applying a bandage should be in there. Some soft bandage like Orthoband or Soffban is useful to then go over the leg before the cotton wool layer of a bandage.
- You will need a couple of Vetraps/cohesive bandages for your poultice should you need to use one. In my experience, the thicker, higher-quality Vetraps are much better as they stick well and don’t wear through as quickly. Ideally, they want to be 10cm in width so that they provide good broad coverage; the cheaper, smaller ones are usually a false economy.
- You can use Vetrap for bandaging limbs too, but make sure that you know how to apply a bandage safely, otherwise you can cause a nasty bandage bind. Never put a Vetrap on a leg without a smooth, even layer of something soft like cotton wool first, and never apply it too tight.
- A good barrier cream like FiltaBac is good for keeping superficial wounds clean when the horse is turned out. It can also be used as total sunblock for pink or sunburnt noses.
- A digital thermometer in your first aid kit would be worthwhile. There are many times when a vet may ask you to check or monitor your horse’s temperature if he is unwell, so long as it is safe to do so.
- Clean latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves will help to make sure you don’t introduce infection when dealing with wounds.
Storing a first aid kit
Don’t forget to include a pair of scissors in your first aid kit as you’ll need these for cutting a poultice to size or bandage material. Finally, a clean, sturdy container to keep all of these horse care products in is a must, so that the contents of your first aid kit are in a suitable condition and easy to locate when you need them. Having a clean bucket or container is also important for solutions when cleaning wounds.