Have you got a Horse First Aid Kit? Maybe it’s on your to-do list to put one together.
So what do you actually need in your Horse First Aid Kit? Guest author Nicola Kinnard-Comedie (who owns and runs NKC Equestrian Training) has this broken down into products to clean with, products to apply to a wound, basic bandaging materials, a poultice kit and a few extra items that you may find useful. The golden rule is, you don’t need one hundred and one items.
1. Products to clean with
Gloves are certainly worth including in your kit, they will protect you when cleaning up a nasty wound but also prevent your horse picking anything up from you.
Gauze swabs are ideal for cleaning wounds, and much better than cotton wool as they don’t leave any residue in the wound. You don’t need specific equine swabs, and you can easily buyw these online. A zip lock bag is a handy addition to store the spare ones in, and it will help you keep them clean as well.
In a busy yard you’d think that you’d always be able to find a bucket, but having a specific bucket, or large pot specifically marked for first aid use only is a handy addition to your kit. Not only will this be a clean bucket, but it will stop it being ‘borrowed’ as well.
Saline solution is ideal for cleaning wounds, and you can buy pre-prepared solutions or make up your own, just add a teaspoon of salt to a pint of cooled boiled water. A large syringe can be helpful to help flush a wound out with saline solution, and is useful to include in your kit.
We recommend saline solution over hibiscrub for cleaning wounds with, as hibiscrub is very strong, and can actually cause damage to the ‘good cells’ and delay healing. Hibiscrub is best left for very very dirty wounds, or to be used on advice of your vet.
2. Products to put on a wound
The ideal product for a wound is hydrogel, this will keep the wound moist and you can’t do any harm with it. Contradictory to what many owners think the vast majority of wounds actually need to be kept moist and wounds don’t need to be ‘dried out’ to heal. Another product you could try is Flamazine, which is only available from your vet but is also very healing and soothing. Flamazine has great efficacy against common pathogens such streptococcus and e coli, and like hydrogel it is kind to a wound, and help keeps it moist. Remember you are only treating fairly basic superficial wounds yourself, and if in any doubt you should be seeking the advice of your vet. You can’t make a wound heal faster, you are just trying to create the best healing environment for the wound.
So once you have cleaned the wound with saline solution pop some hydrogel on and then cover the wound with a non stick dressing.
Melolin is ideal for this, or if you’re stuck you could use animalintex. You must use something that won’t stick to the wound otherwise you will be simply removing all the new cells when you remove the dressing. Melolin is the top choice as it is inexpensive, widely available and comes in an array of sizes.
3. The basic bandage
Having covered the wound you need a simple bandage to keep it all in place.
Over your non-stick dressing you need a secondary layer, which is basically padding before the top layer which conforms the bandage, and holds it all together.
Owners are often surprised that you need a secondary layer, but it is essential that a bandage provides smooth even pressure, and has no lumps, bumps or pressure points.
For padding you can use a roll of cotton wool (cut it in half, or buy a half size roll), or a very easy to use product is soffban.
Soffban is basically very soft, fine cotton wool rolled up like an exercise bandage. It’s great to use because it’s easy to apply and if you pull it too hard it breaks, so you can’t do any harm with it.
Next add a top layer, vet wrap is fine just be careful not it make it too tight, avoid any wrinkles and overlap by half the width with each turn of the bandage.
Ensure you have covered the lower leg (assuming this is where the cut is) from under the knee to the top of the hoof, as this will spread out pressure evenly.