Equine Emergencies: What to Do

No one likes to think of the likelihood of an emergency involving their horse, but it’s important to know what to do when you’re in the midst of one. Here are a few ways to deal with just about any emergency.

Be Prepared

Of course, if you have an emergency on your hands right at this very moment, you must deal with it right away, so skip this section for now. For everyone else, though, this is your opportunity to make sure you’re properly prepared. Put together at least a basic first aid kit so you have supplies on hand in case of an emergency, and create a cheat sheet of things you should know such as your horse’s vitals.

Things to have:

As you collect items for your first aid kit, there are many different things that are good to include, but at the absolute minimum you should have the following on hand at any given time:

  • Thermometer – for determining whether a horse is ill or fighting infection
  • Stethoscope – for listening for heart rate, respiratory rate, and gut sounds
  • Betadine – for cleaning wounds
  • Antibiotic ointment – for treating wounds
  • Gauze and bandage supplies such as Vetrap and Elasticon – for bandaging wounds
  • Tourniquet – for treating leg wounds or snakebite
  • Short length of garden hose – for keeping a horse’s airways open in case of a snakebite to the face
  • Bute – for general pain relief
  • Banamine – for soft tissue pain and colic

Things to know:

A cheat sheet of all the information you might need in an emergency should be included in your first aid kit. At the top of that list should be your emergency contact information (if your horse is boarded) and your vet’s contact information. You should also include important horse information such as standard vitals.

  • Temperature – 99 to 101 degrees
  • Heart rate – 28 to 44 beats per minute
  • Respiratory rate – 10 to 24 breaths per minute

Never checked a horse’s vitals before? Start practicing now. Practice will make you better at it,  so you’re not trying to count your horse’s heartbeats for the first time when both you and he are panicking. Even more importantly, it will allow you to familiarize yourself with what is normal for your horse.

Call the Vet

Any time there is an emergency with your horse, you should always call the vet. Even if you’re not sure whether it counts as an emergency, you should still call the vet. Your vet is your single best source of horse information and most vets will be happy to talk to you about the situation and give you advice over the phone.

Get Help from the Community

Don’t forget that as horse people, we have a wonderful resource available to us: an amazing community and a network of horse people, mostly willing to help one another out when needed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other boarders, barn owners, neighbors, trainers, or professionals within the community if you need help dealing with an emergency. Everyone in the horse community is aware of how much drama there can be, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how everyone can pull together when one of our own needs help.

We’re in Your Corner

A safe, healthy horse begins with plentiful clean water, a healthy diet, and a watchful eye. For more horse information, including how our pelleted feeds make for happy horses and beautiful barns, contact Sacate Pellet Mills at 602-237-3809.