On-Trail First-Aid Kit

Trail Rider - - NEWS - — Robin E. Smith, DVM, with Heidi Me­locco

Horse or hu­man in­juries can hap­pen even on short rides. Be pre­pared with an on-trail first-aid kit. Here, we tell you what to pack and how to use it for sur­vival, re­pairs, first-aid for horses, first-aid for rid­ers, and more.

Tip: Review this list with your vet­eri­nar­ian for more in­for­ma­tion on how to use each item, and to see if he or she has any fur­ther sug­ges­tions.

First-aid sad­dle­bag. Des­ig­nate a sad­dle­bag ex­clu­sively for first-aid items. Choose one de­signed to fit over the sad­dle­horn or at­tach on a front D-ring. Items kept in front of the sad­dle help your horse bet­ter bal­ance the weight, and you’ll have easy ac­cess to your first-aid items dur­ing your ride. Tip: Find or make a first-aid em­blem to iron on your des­ig­nated sad­dle­bag, for vis­i­bil­ity.

Mul­tipur­pose tool. A good mul­tipur­pose tool can help you cut through wire or leather, pull splin­ters, act as a hoof­pick in a pinch, cut ban­dages — and even saw through small tim­ber. Splurge on a medium to large tool made by a rep­utable com­pany. Find one with at least a knife, a file, and pli­ers.

Emer­gency blan­ket. A light­weight, re­flec­tive emer­gency blan­ket uses your own body heat to help keep you warm if you’re stranded on the trail, ex­posed to cold wa­ter, or suf­fer an in­jury re­sult­ing in shock. Most mod­els roll up to the size of your fist.

Flash­light. A flash­light can help you find your way in the dark or find tools you need as the light fades. It can also help you see to an­a­lyze wounds. Con­sider a flash­light with a windup, recharge­able bat­tery so you don’t have to pack ex­tra power.

Duct tape. This all-pur­pose tape can help you keep a horse or hu­man’s ban­dage in place, tape on a loose shoe, or help pack a hoof to help your horse get back to the trailer. You can also re­pair tack in a pinch.

Bal­ing twine. Your use-around-the­barn bal­ing twine is also use­ful on the trail. Tie up a bro­ken head­stall, reat­tach a rein, etc. If you lack a lead rope, you can even use a long piece to help pony an­other horse if a rider is in­jured.

Hoof boots. If you don’t out­fit your horse in boots on ev­ery trail ride, make sure you have a pair in your pack in case of a thrown shoe or hoof in­jury. The boot will pro­tect the hoof, hold ban­dag­ing ma­te­rial in place, and keep your horse’s in­jury clean on the way home.

Dig­i­tal ther­mome­ters. Mon­i­tor a sick or in­jured horse, or take a rider’s tem­per­a­ture to check for over­heat­ing, fever, or shock. In­vest in two, and label sep­a­rately for horse and rider. Make sure that the ther­mome­ters go to 107 de­grees Fahren-

heit to ac­com­mo­date horses’ higher tem­per­a­tures. Nor­mal hu­man tem­per­a­ture is 98.6 de­grees F; nor­mal equine tem­per­a­ture is 98 to 100 de­grees F. Hoof­pick. This handy groom­ing tool helps you pick out your horse’s hooves if he’s trapped pain-caus­ing rocks. It can also help you pry open food cans in a pinch. Choose a sturdy hoof­pick that doesn’t bend eas­ily.

Large freezer bags. Choose re­seal­able bags so you can pack out waste eas­ily. Clean bags also work to haul wa­ter, serve as a bucket to soak your horse’s feet, help dress wounds, etc.

Vet­eri­nary ban­dage/wrap. A roll of the stretchy, sticky wrap helps keep horse and hu­man ban­dages in place. Place over gauze squares or di­a­pers to help keep open wounds clean and bound with pres­sure to help stop bleed­ing.

Tongue de­pres­sors. You can find these at dis­count stores sold as craft sticks. The wooden sticks will give you a clean way to ap­ply oint­ment to a wound. They can also be used to splint a rider’s fin­ger. (Use with vet wrap or clean hand tow­els and/or duct tape.)

Four-inch gauze squares. Pre-cut squares of four-by-four-inch gauze come in ster­il­ized and non­ster­il­ized pack­ages. Opt for a pack of both. These ban­dages can hold an­tibi­otic oint­ment against a wound and al­low some air­flow. They can also act as pad­ding un­der other wraps and to ap­ply med­i­ca­tion. We found a small hiker’s firstaid kit that in­cluded a small pair of scis­sors.

Di­a­pers. Di­a­pers keep an­tibi­otic salve against a wound and can help stop bleed­ing for horse or hu­man. They are es­pe­cially handy for cuts on a horse’s leg. They also can be used as tem­po­rary foot pad­ding to help a horse that’s lost a shoe or suf­fers a hoof in­jury. Se­cure with vet wrap or duct tape.

Hand tow­els. A clean towel wipes off sweat and can wrap a larger wound. It can also serve as a tem­po­rary hu­man arm splint. And if you’re near fire, a wet towel can help pro­tect your nasal pas­sages. A wet towel can also cool an over­heated hu­man or horse. Send your clean-but-older bath­room hand tow­els to your kit.

Wet wipes. Clean a small wound or wash up be­fore and af­ter giv­ing first-aid with wet wipes. Store them in a plas­tic bag with a zip­per so they don’t dry out.

Be­nadryl (diphen­hy­dramine). This

over-the-counter med­i­ca­tion is great to have with you in case of horse or hu­man al­ler­gic re­ac­tions (bee stings, etc.). For hu­mans, liq­uid forms can act quickly. Ask your vet­eri­nar­ian about when and how much to give to your horse.

In­sect re­pel­lent. Keep re­pel­lent on hand in case you trek through in­fested ar­eas or are out at dusk dur­ing mos­quito sea­son. Opt for a nat­u­ral brand, un­less you ride in the deep woods.

Saline/con­tact lens so­lu­tion. Saline so­lu­tion is use­ful to flush out eyes (hu­man and horse’s) af­ter be­ing poked or if de­bris is present. It can also be used to flush a wound.

Be­ta­dine. Com­monly sold as Bac­tine, the dis­in­fec­tant/an­tisep­tic is use­ful for flush­ing out a cut/scrape/wound on horse or hu­man. It’s es­pe­cially rec­om­mended if the wound is con­tam­i­nated with dirt or mud. If a wound is dirty, first rinse with wa­ter or con­tact lens so­lu­tion, then ap­ply Be­ta­dine, rinse with wa­ter, and ap­ply an an­tibi­otic oint­ment and wound dress­ing.

Sun­screen. Carry sun­screen in case your rid­ing buddies for­get to put it on or so that you can reap­ply on the trail. If you ride through wa­ter or on hot days, it’s good to reap­ply of­ten.

Triple an­tibi­otic oint­ment. Ap­ply Neosporin or sim­i­lar oint­ment to pre­vent in­fec­tion of a wound and help fa­cil­i­tate heal­ing. Opt for the pain-re­lief op­tion to help hu­mans feel bet­ter fast.

Wa­ter. In ad­di­tion to ward­ing off de­hy­dra­tion and heat stroke, wa­ter is great to wash out wounds. Make sure to have pure, clean wa­ter with you at all times.

Ibupro­fen. Have it on hand for hu­man (not horse) use in case of in­jury or a fall to help re­duce swelling. Use any brand on sale at your lo­cal dis­count store.


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