“I think we need stitches,” was the text I received last Sunday at 8:30 p.m. My friend Jessie’s three-year-old Quarter Horse Ghost had a major cut on his hind leg. Talk about bad timing, our attempts to get ahold of a vet were futile and with the truck in the shop, an expensive trip to the equine ER out of the question.
Upon closer inspection Ghost had exposed the bone in a clean and ugly slice on the outside of his lower left hind and also had a deep cut on the outside of his ankle. Luckily Jessie had put together a fabulous equine first aid kit containing everything we needed and more. We pulled out several must haves; a bottle of Betadine scrub, a Telfa pad, rolled cotton, Vetwrap, Elastikon, and Chlorhexidine ointment.
Ghost was in pain, he was sweating, agitated, stopping his feet and swishing his tail. In the dim light we ran cool water from the hose over the cuts and used the Betadine surgical scrub to clean the areas around and in the two wounds. The flow of blood had begun to slow down so we slapped a glob of Chorlorahexidine with the sterile Telfa pads over the two wounds. Wrapping the leg in clean cotton we made a compression bandage applying the Vetwrap tightly around the leg and using the Elastikon to adhere and seal the wrap at the top and bottom, keeping dirt and debris out and helping to secure the bandage.
Early the next morning we took Ghost to the vet and swelled with pride as he told us that we had done a “textbook” job caring for the injury!
With recent events in mind here is a list of items to keep in a first aid kit, you never know when you might come home to an equine accident.
- Thermometer – a horse’s normal temperature is 99-101 degrees F, anything over 101 is a red flag for sickness or infection.
- Telfa pads – an inexpensive sterile pad used to cover wounds.
- Vetwrap (available in generic also) – a self-sticking stretchy wrap used to apply pressure and support, comes in fun colors!
- Rolled cotton – comes in a clean sterile roll and can be wrapped over a Telfa pad for a highly absorbent compression bandage.
- Elastikon – a very sticky elastic cloth tape. Never stick directly to wounds and only use sparingly. Remove with care because it will rip hair out!
- Bandage Scissors – blunt tipped safety scissors easily cut bandage material.
- Betadine or Nolvasan – antiseptic scrubs can be used with water.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Can be used quickly and without water.
- Fura-zone – ointment to sooth and protect wounds of all kinds.
- Latex gloves – keep your hands clean as well as your horse’s injury.
- Hand towels – necessary for clean up.
Include a basic first aid book and ask your vet if he or she has any additions or suggestions for your kit. Always attempt to contact a vet in the case of an emergency or as soon as possible afterwards.