Be Prepared

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While your clients get caught up in buying all the fun things, barn managers must think of the more mundane equine items like buckets, pitchforks and medical supplies. . . especially the medical supplies. Making sure all the ingredients of a well-stocked first aid kit are at the ready is important because if there is a way for a horse to hurt itself, the horse will find it. In fact, even if there is no possible way for a horse to hurt itself, it seems it still will. So whether it is a minor abrasion, the flu or something more serious, be ready. (The pile of bandages next to the ancient bottles of unidentifiable goo does not count.)

“Being a responsible barn owner means being prepared for any incident that may occur in a barn setting,” says Carole Baker, director of the equine management program at Teikyo Post University in Waterbury, Conn.

Dr. Douglas Shearer, a veterinarian and owner of Live Oak Animal Clinic in Summerfield, Fla., agrees. He says that, “the most common emergencies, whether in the barn or trailering, are cuts and lacerations, therefore it is important to have supplies on hand to deal with these wounds until the vet can get there for further treatment.”

A good emergency kit starts with a container (preferably a waterproof toolbox) clearly labeled “First Aid.” As elementary as that sounds, these simple things are often taken for granted and you want anyone who goes looking for it to be able to spot the kit quickly. Keep all first aid supplies correctly labeled and organized in one box. The last thing you need to worry about in an urgent situation with a client breathing down your neck is finding bandages in a chaotic tackbox.

Correctly labeling supplies can also help keep track of what you have. Tape an inventory list inside the lid of the first aid kit to keep track of supplies (check expiration dates when doing inventory). Plus, you can list any emergency or vet numbers on the inventory sheet for quick reference. Here is a list of some basic supplies you should consider for your barn’s first aid kit:

  • a thermometer
  • selection of bandages, polos and vetrap
  • cotton wraps/bandages/balls
  • gauze pads, sponges
  • sanitary napkins or diapers (for heavy bleeding)
  • antiseptic (Betadine iodine, rubbing alcohol)
  • antibiotic wound dressing
  • liniments/sprays/powders/ointments/balms
  • surgical tape
  • blunt-tipped scissors
  • eye drops
  • saline solution (for eyes and rinsing wounds)
  • surgical gloves (as well as
  • regular barn gloves)
  • syringes (for vaccinations and for flushing out wounds)
  • height/weight tape
  • hot/cold packs
  • bute/vet meds
  • poultice boot
  • fly masks/ fly spray/ Swat
  • thrush remedy
  • stethoscope
  • coffee can with lid (labeled for syringe disposal)

The relatively small investment in time and money spent in building a proper first aid kit will pay off in the long run. You’ll not only have peace of mind in knowing that you are prepared, but you’ll also have the ability to respond effectively in case an emergency should actually occur.

On the Road

A separate first aid kit should also be packed when you travel with your horses. If an accident occurs, don’t count on the cops to have first aid training and supplies for horses. This kit may not be quite as elaborate as the barn first aid kit, but at the least should contain:

  • a thermometer
  • plenty of bandages/polos/vet wrap
  • cotton wraps/bandages/balls, gauze pads
  • sanitary napkins/diapers
  • blunt-tipped scissors
  • surgical tape
  • balm
  • antiseptic cleaner, saline solution
  • syringes
  • ice packs

It is also important to have up-to-date vaccination records easily accessible in the event that you have to call a vet and provide information on a particular horse. This is where good organization comes into play once again. Denise Secino,owner of Oak Hill Hanoverians in Ocala, Fla., suggests traveling with a binder. “This allows you to keep all the horses’ information well organized and right at your fingertips,” she says. Secino divides the binder into sections for each horse she is taking along and keeps their records (vaccinations/Coggins information/etc.) in the appropriate section. —KD