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First Aid Kit

Obviously, your travelling kit will need to be compact and portable – you can’t just take everything that you have in your stables. So our objectives when we put together a travelling First Aid Kit are:

Save space – must be compact and easy to carry

Adjust quantities based on the time away

Contents will be adequate for treating the most common problems (such as cuts, stone-bruises, strains, colic…)

The Container

FirstAid 03

We would suggest a large bucket with a lid. It should be at least 20 litres (5 gallons) and can be either round or square, but make sure it has a lid. You can either buy these at your ‘Tack Shop’ or, if they don’t have them, you can buy a ‘nappy bucket’ or maybe ask your local baker for any buckets that you can recycle. Many of the ingredients that commercial bakers use come in plastic bins (with lids).

Your container will serve two purposes: firstly, to contain your first-aid supplies and, secondly, to use if you need to clean wounds or soak poultices. Always use a bin liner so that your first-aid supplies can be taken out quickly if you need to use the bucket for another purpose. Using a bin liner is a good idea because it also keeps your supplies together as well as clean.

The Contents

Be careful when you select your supplies: everything must fit inside your bucket, so give it some careful thought. You may wish to include some lotions or gels. If so, think about taking a smaller quantity in leak-proof containers.

Make sure all your containers are leak-proof, especially if the bucket gets warm. Some gels actually turn into liquids when they get warm and the oil in ointments can separate and you may open your bucket and find a huge mess (ruined bandages, soaked gauze – you get the idea).

Just remember, if you do transfer medications into smaller containers to label them with a waterproof marker pen. You may not need to use your kit straight away, so by the time you do you may have forgotten what that ‘funny looking cream’ is used for.

Contents – Dry

4 x Non-stick Pads

2' x 16" Combine Bandage

2 x 4" Co Flex bandages

2 x 4" Elastoplast

1 x Duct Tape Roll (Gaffa Tape or Electrical Tape)

2 x 4" Squares of Gauze

4 x Disposable Nappies/Diapers

4 x  20cc Syringes (no needles)

5 x Tongue Depressors

1 x Box of Epsom Salt (to make poultice for bruises and strains)

1 x Cooking Salt (to make saline solution for wound cleaning or eye flushing)

2 x Small Sponges (different colours for either around head or legs)

Thermometer (digital) See Horse Health for instructions

Stethoscope (optional)

Scissors (sharp with rounded ends)

Tweezers (to extract splinters)

1 x Box Latex Gloves (disposable)

1 x Handtowel (clean) or roll of CHUX

Hand Sanitizer

Small Flashlight plus Extra Batteries

2 x 6" Rubber Tubing/Hose

First-Aid Check List

Vaccination Records (include your Vets Telephone No. and Directory Assist No.)

Contents – Wet

FirstAid 12

Betadine or Vetadine (to make 10% solution for cleaning wounds)

Antibacterial Cream (ask your Vet)

Antihistamine Cream (ask your Vet)

Three-in-one Cream (treats bacteria, allergies and pain – ask your Vet)

Antiseptic Spray (ask your Vet)

1 Gallon (4 Litres) Clean Water

Additional Ideas

Ask your vet about other medications that you may need, such as Butozone sachets (analgesic pain relief) or tranquilizers. Some medications need to be kept cool, so always ask about storage instructions for your vet supplies.

Always clean and disinfect everything after you use them so that they are ready for next time.

When you come home, always replace everything that you have used. You don’t want to have an emergency and find out that you don’t have any bandages left. Anyway, it’s one less job next time!

Notes

You may have looked at the list of contents and thought ‘What’s that for’. Here are some answers:

Tongue depressors
are not used to look down your horse’s throat. They are like a thick paddle pop stick, so you can use them to take creams out of their container without contaminating the contents. You want to keep the contents germ free.

Syringes
can be used to flush out a wound with your diluted iodine solution. This is particularly helpful if the wound is deep, such as puncture wounds.

Diapers/Disposable Nappies
are great because they are really absorbent and have a breathable outer layer as well as sticky tabs to keep them in place. They are particularly useful when you do a poultice on the sole of the hoof and you need something to keep it in place. You can then secure the diaper with Co Flex or Elastoplasts.

Rubber tubing
can be used to keep a horse’s nostril’s open if he has a lot of swelling around the muzzle. This can be caused by bites from insects, spiders or snakes. The tubing needs to keep its shape, not collapse. Just insert it into each nostril (leave some hanging out) and secure with tape so that it doesn’t go too far up or fall out. This may not be possible if the horse is extremely agitated.

Handtowels
can be used rolled up, to create a pressure bandage on a bleeding wound. We usually carry either a handtowel or a clean rolled-up leg bandage for this job and then carry a roll of Chux cloths to wipe our hands, wounds and boots. This means we can throw them away after each use.

NOTE: Whenever you are treating your horse, always wear a safety helmet. Pain and anxiety can lead to unpredictable behaviour.

Conversions

If you live in a country that uses metric rather than imperial measurements, you may find the use of inches (") rather than mm or cm confusing. So the following conversions may help:

4" (approx 10cm)
6" (approx 15cm)
16" (approx 40.5cm)

You may also find that these supplies still use imperial measurements because they are imported from countries where this is the standard measurement or, in some cases, a particular industry insists that all their products use only one form of measurement as the international standard – confusing isn’t it?

Remember, this is your travelling First Aid Kit not your ‘at home’ veterinary supply, which will probably be more extensive. Unfortunately, you can’t take your whole tack room with you, so pack your bucket carefully.