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First Aid For Your Horse

9th May 2017

Basic First Aid

Accidents with large animals occur all the time whether they have gained cuts from barbed wire, trodden on something or ended up stuck. Having a first aid kit on hand is very important to ensure you can give your horse essential first aid.

General cuts and scratches

Rinse with saline or if there is none on hand water will do. Then wipe with a disinfectant. If you have a fly repellent, you can spray around the area to reduce the risk of getting infected or flies laying eggs.

Puncture wounds

Puncture wounds in dense muscle aren’t as bad as wounds that compromise the organs or running (chest, stomach or lower leg). Firstly, get in touch with your vet.

If it is still bleeding and nothing is inside, use a sterile cloth or towel and press on the wound. If the bleeding has now stopped, wash out with saline, bandage, then wrap in a damp towel. If the wound is too deep or you think flushing will only push the debris further in, just wait for the vet to arrive. In cases where there is still something stuck in there or the wound is deep, don’t try to do it yourself.


Abrasions are generally easy to treat yourself; just make sure that there are no other serious injuries like puncture or broken bones underneath.

To treat, assuming there are no other underlying issues, just rinse with saline to wash out any dirt or rust in the wound and put a dilute solution of betadine on the wound. If it seems quite red, then running cold water over the wound will relive the redness and swelling. You can also get an anti-inflammatory from your vet. After hosing, use an ointment with vitamin E or petroleum jelly to help it heal.


Lacerations usually need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent infection, so you should contact your vet. In general, antibiotics should not be used unless necessary to treat an existing infection. Because it is possible to develop a resistance to antibiotics, this should be seriously discussed with your vet before giving any kind of medication to your horse.

If you can get near your horse without injuring yourself or them even more, then flush out the wound with saline solution. This will reduce the chance of infection in the wound until the vet arrives.

If your horse does any traveling, you should have two first aid kits: One in the stable and one in the trailer in case there's injury away from home.

  • Bath and hand towels for applying pressure to slow or stop heavy bleeding
  • Rolls of gauze bandage and gauze squares for dressings
  • Surgical tape and duct tape; for keeping things where you put them
  • Scissors
  • Wrapping bandages
  • Leg wraps
  • Spray bottle
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Ointment
  • Large syringe for wound flushing
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Betadine or other disinfectant
  • Tweezers
  • Q-tips
  • Fly repellent such as ‘Banfly’
  • Pliers
Vital Signs Normal Call if
Temperature 37.2°C over 38.8 °C
Heart Rate*
*heart rate is higher in foals
30-44 bpm over 50 bpm
Respiratory Rate 8-12 bpm over 30 bpm
Mucous Membranes pink, moist dry, tacky or not pink
Capillary Refill Time 1-2 seconds greater than 3 seconds

Please contact us if you have any questions.