First Aid On The Trail

Happy and calm trails can turn into nightmare tales if you aren’t prepared for a crisis that can befall your horse on your day rides or overnighters. Hours from home, far away from your vet, and out of cell phone range, it is essential to know how to care for your horse in an emergency.

In order to do this, you will nee to carry a complete first aid kit for the trail, and know how to use each item. The information below can help you cope with the most common emergencies you’re likely to come across. This kit won’t weight you down though and you can fit it all in a small cantle bag.

Having an equine rectal thermometer will help in the event of heatstroke so you can monitor the horse’s body temperature.

Bandaging materials are an absolute essential for many reasons. They can be used in the event of a possible fracture, lameness, skin wounds and provide support and protection to the lower limbs. A handy supply of two ply sheet cottons approximately 4×4 inches, Vetwrap, self-adhesive elastic tape, and gauze will help in the event of such cases.

Needless syringes about 12 to 20 cc are handy in the event of lameness and snakebites. Use it with Betadyne solution to flush out wounds. Having a snakebite kit on hand will be necessary. A couple of lengths of garden hose about 6-7 inches long will help if the air passages of the nostrils begin to swell shut with bitten.


Solutions and medicines will help in most cases. These are listed: Saline solution can help cleanse wounds and eyes. Banamine will reduce inflammation in the case of eye injuries or colic. Antibiotic Ophthalmic solution protects wounds and injured eyes from infection. A tranquilizer like butorphanol will help if your horse ties up or goes down with colic. For allergic reactions a potent anti-inflammatory like Dexamethasone will counteract the response. Also having some bute on hand as a pain reliever is good. Bute will also help with inflammation in wounds and lameness. And most importantly, Betadyne solution, that will kill bacteria and cleanse the tissue.

Last but not least, getting in the habit of wearing a running watch or a watch with a second hand will help when you need to monitor your horses vital signs.

Having a good first aid kit for riding out on the trails will help in many events where extending your horse’s life would otherwise be impossible. Also having the necessary basic pieces will help decrease your horse’s stress and pain with a minor injury.