02 Oct Take Your Barn Emergency Kit from Okay to Great
When it comes to horse safety always follow the scout motto…Be Prepared! Although we all hope the unexpected doesn’t happen to your horse(s), it’s important to be prepared when and if it does. Therefore, everyone who deals with horses should have an emergency kit in an accessible location. We recommend keeping it in a primary tack room or bathroom. Some bigger barns keep their emergency kit in their office – which is fine – as long as the office is never locked.
There are a number of good horse first aid kits you can buy. But we prefer to take it a step further and create an emergency kit which includes first aid items. Even if you bought a first aid kit – take a look at our recommended inventory list. You can create your own emergency kit by adding items from our list that didn’t come in your first aid kit. As always, it’s important you know exactly what’s in the kit and how to use it. We strongly recommend that you also have a second emergency kit in your trailer if you transport a horse, or horses, away from the barn.
We have enough stress in our life – so taking the time to put all the right items in your kit at once, and keeping it replenished, will help decrease the “freak out” factor when you find yourself running to get it. As a friendly reminder…don’t try to do anything a vet should do. Although you have the best of intentions, injuries are often made worse by the wrong treatment. When in doubt, keep your horse comfortable and call your vet.
Here’s what we use to create our emergency kits –
in no particular order:
- The box. The kit should be in a big sturdy box with a large handle so it’s easy to grab and move on the fly. There are boxes available at your local home or farm supply store that are reasonably priced. In our experience, if you can get one with wheels do it…the more portable the better. If you bought an equine first aid kit, simply add it to the box.
- Inventory list. Keep track of what’s in your kit. Type up an inventory list by category of exactly what’s in the kit that includes the expiration date of supplies. Put the list in a plastic sleeve and update it and your kit every 90 days. Make sure you throw away any expired supplies.
- Clean rags and/or towels. These are helpful for cleaning up cuts or applying to wounds.
- Halter and lead rope. If the horse you have to help is in the pasture, it’s nice to have a spare set in your kit.
- Flashlight. Emergencies often happen at night. Stalls and pastures are not always well lit.
- Insect repellant. Handy for both human and horse!
- Hammer, crowbar, and wire cutters. These are necessary tools if a horse gets caught up in fencing.
- Duct tape. It’s great for a number of things around the barn, particularly when vet wrap or leg wraps can’t get the job done. You can also use duct tape to seal/wrap a hoof if necessary.
- Sharp scissors and/or knife. You may have to cut a halter or blanket off a horse. Scissors are also handy to cut other things like gauze, bandages, and duct tape.
- Tweezers. These will serve you well in many instances – such as when removing ticks or burrs.
- Antibacterial soap and saline. Use Betadine or Chlorhexidine scrub and saline solution to clean minor cuts, abrasions, or wounds. Do not leave soap in the wound. Flush thoroughly with saline prior to wrapping.
- Rubbing alcohol. A must for disinfecting tools such as tweezers or thermometers. Always clean your tools soon after you use them so they are ready for next time.
- Syringes. Stock up on various sizes for your emergency kit.
- Antibiotic ointment. Once the wound is clean, apply the ointment (such as Neosporin) to decrease the chance of infection.
- Quilted/padded wraps. Keep several in your kit for placing under bandages for added absorption.
- Gauze squares/bandage rolls. Buy various sizes made out of cotton. There are equine leg bandages available at farm supply and tack stores. Clean leg wraps can also be used for wrapping injured legs/knees.
- Cold packs. Various size plastic bags work well in winter in cold climates. Add snow, you have a cold pack. In summer, keep ice in the fridge at the barn. You can pack some in a cooler to take with you when you’re transporting horses. Many prefer to simply use chemical cold packs.
- Unscented sanitary pads. Along with vet wrap, these work well to dress cuts or deeper abrasions/wounds. The pads also work as an effective pressure pad when you’re trying to stop bleeding.
- Splint materials. If they aren’t included in your ready-made purchased emergency kit, or you’re creating your own kit like we do, consider using cut/trimmed PVC pipe.
- Hoof pick and shoe puller. For hoof injuries, make sure you have both of these along with Epsom salts, and ointments specific to hoof wounds.
- Thermometer. Have a human or veterinary plastic thermometer on hand to take your horse’s temperature along with some Vaseline® or other water-based lubricant to put on thermometer per use. Digital thermometers are the easiest to use.
- Stethoscope. If you know what to listen for this can be helpful especially when listening for bowel sounds if colic is a concern. Ask your vet’s opinion on this.
- Electrolytes. These are typically an effective treatment for shock and colic.
- A blanket. This is nice to have in your kit – especially if the situation is more serious and shock is a concern.
- Phone numbers. Include the number of your primary and secondary vet inside the top cover of your kit. It’s also a good idea to have the barn manager’s numbers and even a client list with phone numbers in the kit.
- Good old flannel shirt. If your kit is big enough, it’s not a bad idea to have a large flannel shirt, or something equally as sexy, to put on over your clothes for when you’re in a messy situation.
While any first aid kit is better than none, we hope this blog has helped inspire you to create a dedicated emergency kit or given you some insight as to what to add to your current one to make it even better. Just like the Scout motto – we believe you should – Be Prepared!