Anyone who rides, owns, or works with horses knows they have a talent for getting injured. Whether it happens during turnout, while riding, or even just in their stall, horses are great at finding creative ways to hurt themselves – despite our best efforts to create a safe living environment. An emergency vet call is expensive, and while it is sometimes necessary, having the right tools to treat minor cuts, scrapes, or swellings on your own is an essential part of responsible horse management.
Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a list of go-to first aid supplies that any barn should have on hand. Be sure to store all of these items properly – this means temperature-controlled storage for topical products and waterproof containers for any cotton or gauze bandaging supplies.
Digital Thermometer – If you suspect your horse is feeling under the weather, an easy 30-second temperature check can help you determine if a vet call is in order. Be sure to thinly coat the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly before using it. This will be more comfortable for your horse!
Isopropyl Alcohol – Also known as rubbing alcohol, this antiseptic has a wide variety of uses in both horse and human first aid. It is also effective for sterilizing equipment such as thermometers.
Bandage Scissors – Unlike regular scissors, bandage scissors have a rounded tip on one blade that can be safely inserted into a hoof or leg wrap without the risk of hurting the horse.
Latex-Free Gloves – Using latex-free gloves is the most sanitary way to treat wounds. They prevent the transmission of germs from our hands into the wound, as well as protect us from products unsafe for human skin contact.
Duct Tape – Duct tape is another all-purpose tool with a variety of uses in the barn, such as wrapping hooves or securing Velcro fastenings on leg bandages.
Furazone – Furazone is an antibacterial topical ointment that works well to treat minor wounds, or in sweat wraps to help reduce leg swelling. For simple cuts and scrapes, a triple antibiotic is a great alternative – it’s less potent and is handy for human wounds as well.
Alushield – This aerosol spray creates a water-resistant barrier over the wound to help protect against dirt, debris, and bacteria. Alushield works well for superficial or minor cuts and scrapes.
Corona – Corona’s lanolin-based formula helps soothe dry, irritated, or cracked skin. It is beneficial for promoting healing in hock sores, minor burns, and chafed skin.
Dimethyl Sulfoxide – Commonly known as DMSO, this product reduces acute swelling and may be used in small amounts in sweat wraps. This product is not safe for human skin, so always wear gloves when applying!
Epsom Salt Poultice – This poultice helps draw out inflammation and reduce pain. Epsom salts are commonly used to treat hoof abscesses, and this product makes it easy to wrap the poultice in hoof rather than going through the hassle of soaking in diluted saltwater.
Betadine Scrub – Made with povidone-iodine solution, this antiseptic scrub is used for cleaning wounds and disinfecting surgical sites. Always use gloves and/or gauze squares rather than bare hands to work this product into a lather on the skin.
Gauze Sponge – Gauze sponges are a great multi-purpose tool for scrubbing minor wounds, cleaning off equipment, and covering wounds under bandages. These sponges are also available in single-use packaging for situations that require completely sterile supplies.
Absorbent Cotton – A 1-pound roll of absorbent cotton can be cut to any size needed for bandaging and wound care.
Conform Gauze Rolls – These 3” gauze rolls are soft, lightweight, and stretch to conform to the horse’s leg or hoof. Use to protect the wound from rubbing against the outer bandage.
Vetrap – A flexible, cohesive bandage that sticks only to itself, Vetrap works well for bandaging minor wounds or wrapping hooves. This bandage will not stick to the hair and doesn’t leave sticky residue on the skin.
Elastikon – Elastikon is a strong adhesive bandage that stretches to fit any surface. Use it over a layer of conforming gauze to keep the wrapping securely in place.
It’s always better to be prepared in case your horse needs some last-minute care! Make sure you have all the tools you need.
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