Speaking Equine, Vol. 1, Issue 4

Emergency Preparedness

Be Prepared!

Medical Emergencies Happen! The horse's natural behavioral traits; the flight-or-fight response, the herd instinct and its natural curiosity, makes the horse accident-prone. No matter what emergency you may face in the future, being prepared is the best step you can take to avoid letting panic take control. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare :

  • Keep your veterinarian's number by each phone, including after-hour numbers.
  • Consult with your veterinarian regarding a back-up veterinarian's number in case you cannot reach your regular vet quickly enough.
  • Know in advance the most direct route to your veterinarian’s office. Have a trailer available.
  • Post the names and phone numbers of nearby friends and neighbors who can assist you in an emergency while you wait for the veterinarian.
  • Prepare a first aid kit and store it in a clean, dry, readily accessible place. Make sure that family members and other barn users know where the kit is located.

It is a good idea to have emergency kits anywhere you spend time with your horse so that you don't waste time looking for supplies in an emergency. Ideally, you should have emergency kits in your barn and trailer, as well as a small pack for the trail. Here are some tips for a well-equipped First Aid Kit:

  • A plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and a handle is ideal for a First Aid Kit. We've found that a large fishing tackle box works well.
  • Tape a list of the box's contents inside the lid. This provides an easy-to-find checklist when updating and maintaining your kit. Remember that drugs and ointments have an expiration date. You may find it helpful to note this information on the list as well so that you can replace the items when they expire.
  • Many people make a diagram of where the items are located with in the First Aid Kit. When you are trying to calm your horse and hold pressure on a bad cut, you may not be able to tell a helper exactly where the needed supply is in the kit.
  • It's a good rule of thumb to keep only times that you are comfortable using in the kit. Ask your veterinarian for recommended medications you might need in your first aid kit.
  • Remember to add specialty items that fit your horse’s medical needs.
  • Store your first aid kit in moderate temperatures and away from direct sun. Drugs may become ineffective if stored in very hot or cold temperatures.
  • Include an updated first aid book for horses. Ask your veterinarian, or see the horse first aid books listed in Amazon.com.

First Aid Kit and Utilization

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