Equistar School of Riding First Aid BASIC FIRST AID TREATMENT FOR MINOR CUTS, SCRAPES, and SWELLING You should be aware of your horse’s normal vital signs, a change in the vital signs is a good early warning that your horse may be ill. The normal vital signs for a horse are Temperature: 99 – 100 F, 38C Heart Rate: 32-40 beats/minute in an unstressed horse (at rest) Respiration: 8-12 breaths/min (at rest) Minor cuts and scrapes are a part of every horse’s life. Just like we get paper cuts, scratches or bruises, so can your horse. It is important to be aware of your horses’ physical condition. Grooming your horse is a good time to check your horse for new cuts and scrapes or other signs of illness. If during the course of grooming you discover a new injury to your horse, follow the following steps to treat the injury. Minor Cuts and Scrapes 1. Clean the wound with water and betadine scrub 2. Dry the wound 3. Put an antibiotic ointment on the wound 4. Bandage the wound if necessary Bruises and Swelling 1. Run cold water over swelling to help reduce inflammation and soreness 2. Apply liniment as necessary 3. Wrap legs if necessary 4. Call your vet if the swelling continues for more than 48 hours. When a horse injures itself, the wound tends to swell about 24 hours after the original injury. The injury may appear worse the day after, especially on a horse’s leg. You can help reduce the inflammation with anti-inflammatory drugs and hosing the area with cold water. Gentle exercise will also help to keep the blood flow moving. A pain reliever (bute) can also help. TREATMENT FOR MAJOR INJURIES If you should notice a major injury to your horse, the important thing is to keep calm and call your vet immediately. Make sure to provide your vet with the following information: 1. What is the nature of the injury? 2. Where is the wound? 3. How is the wound bleeding? In arterial bleeding, blood spurts out, venous bleeding is slower and more consistent. 4. How recent is the wound/injury? 5. If the horse is lame, is there heat in the hoof and a digital pulse? 6. Age, condition of horse (i.e. in foal, thin, fit, overweight) 7. Make sure you tell the vet the steps you have taken so far in treatment. BANDAGING LEGS There are several times when you may want to bandage your horse’s legs. Proper technique is very important. Improper bandaging, can cause discomfort, restrict blood flow and potentially damage tendons and other tissue. Leg bandages can be used to provide support for tendons and ligaments during workouts, prevent or reduce swelling after exercise or because of injury, protect legs during trailering, protect leg wounds from dirt and aid in healing. How to Bandage Remove dirt and other debris from legs to prevent irritation Make sure the legs are dry Use clean, dry bandages Make sure any wounds have been cleaned Apply padding so it lies flat and wrinkle free Start the wrap on the inside halfway up the leg. Do not start or end over a joint (fetlock, knee) Wrap the leg from front to back, outside to inside (counterclockwise on left, clockwise on right) Wrap in spiral pattern – going down the leg and up again Overlap the earlier layers by at least 50% Use smooth, even pressure Be careful not to wrap too tight or too loose Check bandages daily Pick a fun color you like! BASIC FIRST AID KIT Every barn should have a basic first aid kit to deal with minor and major injuries. A complete first aid kit should include: Veterinarians Phone # Disinfectant Wound Powder/Ointment Antibiotic Aerosol Fly Repellent Wound Dressings Bandages Tape or Safety Pins Epsom Salts Scissors Tweezers/Forceps Thermometer Vaseline Cup or Container Latex Gloves Stethoscope Clippers Flashlight Electrolytes Twitch Hoof pick Instant Cold/Hot Compresses Zip Lock Bags Brochure on Emergency Care COMMON ILLNESS/PROBLEMS COLIC Horses have very sensitive digestive systems. Colic is the term for a stomachache in a horse. Colic should always be treated as an emergency and your vet called immediately. Some signs of colic are loss of appetite, sweating, lethargy, and general lack of interest in surroundings. The horse will look around at its flanks, paw the ground, or kick at its belly. The horse commonly, will try to frequently get down and roll to relieve the discomfort. A horse with colic should be kept calm and quiet. It is not good to let the horse roll as this may cause serious complications such as a twisted gut. It is best for a horse with colic to be kept up on it’s feet and walking around. STRANGLES Strangles is a respiratory (breathing/lungs) infection. Your horse will have a runny nose with a thick nasal discharge. Strangles can also cause a fever and coughing in a horse, as well as enlargement of the lymph glands in the jaw. Strangles is highly contagious. It can be spread in many ways by direct contact, tack, feeding or grooming kits. It is important to quickly isolate any horse with suspicious signs. THRUSH Thrush is found in the frog of a horse’s hoof, it becomes soft and emits a foul odor. This odor makes Thrush easily identifiable. Treatment involves a thorough cleaning of the horse’s hooves and application of a Thrush specific ointment. Thrush is more common in the winter when the ground stays wet. Frequent cleanings of your horse’s hooves can help prevent Thrush. SCRATCHES Scratches is a skin infection on the lower part of the legs. They frequently occur, in wet, cold, weather and is due to putting a horse with wet legs away, and may be due to an irritation of the skin. More than one leg is usually involved and horses with white markings seem to be more susceptible. Treatment involves a thorough cleansing of the affected legs with a medicated shampoo to remove all dirt, pus and other material. The legs should be dried completely before applying a soothing ointment (like Corona) to the scratches. The legs should then be bandaged. It may be necessary to repeat this treatment daily for quite some time. LAMENESS Detecting lameness is not always easy. Often times it is the rider who will notice first that something is not right with their horse. The trot is the best gait for determining lameness however; lameness can sometimes be obvious at the walk or the gallop. When trotting a lame horse tries to avoid pain by reducing the weight on the lame limb. They accomplish this by altering the position of their head or hindquarters. To detect lameness, ask someone else to trot the horse on a hard, level surface. The horse should be trotted on a loose rein. For foreleg lameness trot the horse toward you, for hind leg lameness trot the horse away from you. A horse will bob its head when the lame foreleg hits the ground (looks like it is nodding). In hind leg lameness watch the hindquarters, they will be raised on the side that is lame when that leg hits the ground. PREVENTATIVE FIRST AID DAILY GROOMING A good daily grooming is the first step to preventing injury or illness in your horse. Make sure to check over your horse carefully while grooming. Make notes about your horse’s attitude, condition, any new scratches or bumps? WORMING Worming your horse at least once a quarter (every 3 months) is very important to your horse’s overall health. Your horse may suffer from worms by ingesting worm larvae while grazing or eating. Worms have the ability to live for a long time inside a horse. Adult worms living in a horse’s digestive system can cause damage to the horse by damaging the intestines, or depriving the horse of needed nutrition. If you find a tick on your horse a good way to get rid of it is to give your horse a paste wormer. Don’t try to pull the tick off. CHANGING FEEDS Make all changes to feed gradually. Changing a horse's feed rapidly can lead to colic and other serious ailments. WARMING UP & COOLING DOWN You should properly warm your horse up before strenuous exercise and cool your horse down after strenuous exercise. Just like you, your horse is an athelete. To cool your horse after exercise make sure you walk your horse for an average ten minutes. You should walk your horse no less than 5 minutes and no more than ½ an hour. After walking for five minutes, feel your horse under the chest if their body is warmer than your hand keep walking. In cold weather make sure to cover your horse with a lightweight cooler to help them maintain a constant body temperature and prevent a chill while cooling them out.