Managing Equine Emergencies

A horse in respiratory distress. Are you prepared for emergencies?
A horse in respiratory distress. Are you prepared for emergencies?

By thinking and planning ahead, most emergency situations can be handled satisfactorily with a positive outcome for both horse and owner. Follow these five tips for effective preparedness:

1. Know the symptoms

  1. Colic
  2. Wounds
  3. Musculosketetal injuries
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Neonatal complications
  6. Respiratory distress
  7. Severe bleeding
  8. Recumbency
  9. Depression

2. Provide proper care

Have your veterinarian's contact information readily available, with a back-up plan on hand if the veterinarian cannot be reached immediately. Regular appointments with a veterinarian are not only important for the everyday care of the horse, but they also allow the veterinarian to become familiar with the animal, so that in an emergency situation the veterinarian will be able to make the best recommendations for treatment.

3. Select a local equine hospital ahead of time

In a life-threatening situation, the veterinarian may want the animal in a hospital setting to make sure the proper medical attention is administered. Being familiar with the facilities in your area, and having the contact information readily available, can save time and significantly influence the outcome of any necessary procedures.

4. Have your records ready

Upon arrival at a medical facility, a basic health history will be requested, along with an account of the details related to the injury or illness. Since a definitive diagnosis will be made based on the physical exam and medical history, it is imperative to have the medical history for each horse available for the veterinarian who will be making the treatment decisions.

5. Plan ahead financially

Treating a horse in an emergency situation can be expensive. Dealing with an injured or sick horse is a roller coaster ride, both emotionally and financially.  Developing a strategy for dealing with the decisions that must be made during the process allows for clear thinking and careful determination about how far to go and how to cover the expenses when the need arises.

Dig deeperTM

Explore the symptoms of the common diseases and conditions mentioned in this article in our Diseases and Conditions reference library.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

Author picture

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere.