The Horse First Aid Kit for Your Lorry Or Trailer
Most owners have a well stocked horse first aid kit at home, but a kit for the lorry or trailer can be overlooked, or not restocked, which isn’t a lot of help if you need something miles from home. In this article I will outline what you need in a travel horse first aid kit, plus a few other items that I think are essential when travelling your horse.
Items to clean a wound with
Your travel first aid kit is there as a first response, to clean and protect a wound until you can get home and deal with a cut or scrape properly. Disposable gloves are a must have for cleaning wounds, as you are trying to protect the cut from any further dirt or debris. Gauze swabs are ideal for cleaning as they won’t leave any residue in the cut, and these are a better choice than cotton wool. Depending on the show or training facilities, and your vehicle, you may have access to a hosepipe to clean a cut, but I would always have pre-prepared saline solution with you. You’ll need a clean bucket or pot, marked for first aid only, and a syringe can be helpful to clean the wound with as well. A head torch is a useful addition to your kit, and you might find a set of cold boots, or an ‘instant ice pack’, worth including as in the event of a swelling this could be applied straight away.
You might not be able to do the most thorough wound cleaning in situ, but do the best you can. Next you need to cover the wound for the journey home.
Protect and cover the wound
A wound needs to ideally be covered with a non-stick dressing, and suitable topical product can be placed directly onto the wound; hydrogel is an ideal choice. This is a sterile gel, it will keep the wound slightly moist, and will help promote a good healing environment. The dressing needs to be held in place, and the use of a padding layer is important when bandaging. Soffban is useful to include in a travel first aid kit as it is very easy to use. Similar to fine cotton wool, rolled up like a tail bandage, it breaks if it is pulled too tight. This will hold the dressing in place, and a final layer of vetrap or cohesive bandage can be applied over the top.
Not every area of the horse lends itself to being easily bandaged. Hydrogel is an excellent product but it does require a dressing to hold it in place, as it can ‘slide’ off the wound. You might like to also include some flamazine, which is a very effective cream to use on wounds and can be purchased from your vet.
As part of your horse first aid kit I would also include spare headcollars and ropes, hi viz jackets, torches and a warning triangle. Details of your breakdown cover, your vet’s details should be packed. If there is no onsite vet phone numbers for some other local veterinary practices in the area is useful to have with you. I would take the precaution of having these numbers jotted down on a piece of paper as well as being stored in your phone. Should your battery run out, your phone get dropped in a water bucket, or your horse tread on it at least you will know who to call from another phone (and yes these have happened to me!).
Items that get forgotten
Your horse’s passport should always be with the horse, and whilst many owners are excellent at remembering this I do think this can be overlooked, so double check it is with you. I would also have a copy of your horse’s insurance details with you, should anything more serious arise whilst you are out your horse this would help prevent any delays from occurring.
Superficial cuts only
It is also worth noting that as owners (however experienced) we are not vets, and should only ever be trying to treat minor, superficial wounds that do not involve any other structures. A wound that penetrates more than the top layer of skin, involves a joint or tendon, is bleeding excessively, or contains a foreign body are all examples of when immediate veterinary support is needed. The mantra, ‘do no further harm’ should certainly be remembered with cuts and wounds.
I hope that your travel horse first aid kit doesn’t need to be used too often, but as with everything with horses it is always better to be safe rather than sorry, and should you use any items don’t forget to replace them before your next outing.