Don't let minor problems become big problems
If you have taken to heart the idea that giving your horse a thorough once-over on a daily basis is the smart thing to do is, you are well on the path to being a responsible horse owner.
On the other hand, if your horse is out-of-sight and out-of-mind a great deal of the time, you may be surprised to find that a minor injury or illness has turned into a costly or possibly life-threatening situation.
Being consistent and thorough in checking out your horse on a regular basis and following through with first aid treatment for minor problems is good for both you and the horse.
Five important general principles of first aid
- Always have a first aid kit close at hand along with a syringe of Tetanus Antitoxin and a Tetanus Toxoid booster, and frozen cooling packs
- Gently restrain and calm the injured or ill horse
- Assess the extent of the illness or injury
- Administer appropriate first aid
- Call veterinarian for advice and additional treatment when necessary
Initial actions in first aid situations
- Colic: Remove all feed and water and calmly walk the horse if possible to relieve discomfort and help pass manure. Monitor vital signs.
- Choke: Remove food and water and keep horse calm.
- Eyes: Place horse in a dark stall.
- Lameness: If possible move to stall and provide water.
- Nervous System: Place in quiet stall, dim lights and decrease all stimulation possible. Remove all feed.
- Urinary System: Check heart rate and collect urine if possible, especially if discolored, bloody or if horse is straining to urinate
- Wounds: Clean and cover if danger of contamination. Check to see when last tetanus booster was administered
Two don'ts of first aid:
- Don't wait to call your veterinarian:
- Colic can be fatal if gut is twisted or obstructed.
- Eyes can rupture if not treated properly.
- Foals can become very sick, very quickly.
- Fractures and conditions affecting limbs can worsen in a short period of time.
- Neurological problems can cause a horse to injure itself or people trying to help it.
- Wounds can affect joints, tendons or vital organs.
- Don't medicate unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian
- The wrong medication or medication used or given in an incorrect way can seriously damage the health of your horse.
- To prevent the need for emergency first aid, evaluate your horse's environment on a regular basis for potential hazards and minimize or remove them.
- For additional information on any topic, see specific articles in Diseases and Conditions section and other areas of this site.