The Savvy Station

Equine First-Aid Kit Essentials

bij Parelli Natural Horsemanship op Dec 14, 2022

Equine First-Aid Kit Essentials

Always hope for the best and plan for the worst. Unfortunately, with horses, injuries are more of a "when" than an "if." Horses are accident-prone, and preparing for accidents and injuries is essential. Being proactive will help lower your stress during a stressful time. When it comes to equine first aid kits, you have two basic options. You can buy a premade first aid kit from an online supplier or your local tack shop or create your emergency kit yourself. Creating your kit lets you customize the kit for your horse and lifestyle. Here's everything you need to know to make a first-aid kit and prepare for an equine emergency.

Why You Need a First Aid Kit for Your Horse

The last thing you want to do during an emergency is to look for supplies and your emergency kit. It would be even worse if you discover you don't have what you need. A well-stocked first aid kit should include everything you will need to treat an injury or stabilize a serious injury until your vet arrives. Since you never know when an accident will happen, you need to get your kit together asap.

Where To Store Your Horse First Aid Kit

Place your horse's first aid kit in the barn, where it is easily accessible. Don't bury it under a pile of blankets or at the bottom of a trunk! You can designate a shelf in your tack room or place the kit by the door to make grab-and-go fast.

Some of the items in your kit will be temperature sensitive. If you have very high or low temperatures, it could damage your medical supplies and medications. If your tack room isn't temperature controlled, consider moving the sensitive supplies to another area to prevent overheating or freezing.

What Containers To Use for Your First Aid Kit

You can get pretty creative with containers for your first aid kit. Whichever type of container you choose should be portable, have smaller compartments, is waterproof, and be airtight. We recommend something that can be tightly sealed to keep out dirt, debris, and critters. Grooming totes and toolboxes make great storage containers for your emergency kit.

Horse First Aid Kit Basic Items

First-aid kits can range from very basic with only essential items to very extensive supplies to treat major injuries. Here are some of the basic items you should include in every kit.

  • Vet wrap (2" or 3")
  • Cotton roll
  • Gauze pads 4x4
  • Bandage scissors
  • Digital or traditional rectal thermometer (if using a conventional thermometer, tie a string and clip to the end of it)
  • K-Y Jelly
  • rubber gloves
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol - to sterilize equipment
  • Betadine - antiseptic scrub for washing/disinfecting wounds
  • Antiseptic wound cream - to prevent infection while wounds are healing
  • Saline solution - used to flush eye wounds
  • Triple-antibiotic eye ointment
  • Blood-stop powder
  • Towels
  • Duct tape
  • Oral syringe
  • Syringes and needles
  • Stethoscope
  • Tweezers
  • Sterile knife


In addition to your basic items, there are some recommended pieces of equipment, including:

  • Flashlight
  • Wire cutters
  • Sharp pocket knife
  • Clippers
  • Clean bucket
  • Towels
  • Twitch
  • Extra halter/lead rope

Medications for Your Horse First Aid Kit

There are many medications you could add to your emergency kits. However, you should be very familiar with the medications stocked in your kit, how to use them, when to use them, and common side effects. If you are experiencing a situation requiring a veterinarian, consult your vet before administering any medication. Depending on the case, they may ask you to wait for them to arrive or give a different type of medication.

  • Phenylbutazone (“bute”) and flunixin meglumine (Banamine) are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers. These medications come in injectable or paste. Bute is also available in powder form. Make sure you know the correct dosage for your horse.
  • There are many sedatives available for horses. Dormosedan gel is an oral paste and is very mild. The correct dosage is listed on the package. Make sure to wear gloves when you give this medication, as it is easily absorbed through your skin.

Smaller Horse First Aid Kit for the Trailer

If you trailer your horse frequently, it might be worth creating a first aid kit to keep in your truck or trailer. This is excellent if you have multiple horses; some travel while others are at home. Here are some things to include in a smaller travel first aid kit.

  • Gauze pads and cotton roll
  • Nitrofurazone
  • Vet wrap
  • Bandage scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Blood-stop powder
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Betadine
  • Pocket knife

Things to Do Before an Emergency

  • Post emergency contact information for your vet and farrier in the barn.
  • Learn to take your horse's temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate.
  • Check your first-aid kit regularly and replace expired medication.
  • Replace anything you take out of your first-aid kit as soon as possible.

Vet Communication is Key

Preparing a fully-stocked emergency kit is critical for a horse owner, but a call to your veterinarian is essential during any type of emergency. Symptoms such as swollen eyes, lameness, bleeding, respiratory issues, and colic should always prompt a phone call to your veterinarian.

How to Check Your Horse’s Vital Signs

When you call your veterinarian, they will ask a long list of questions, including symptoms and vital signs. Practice taking the vital signs for your horse in advance so you can confidently do this during an emergency.

  • Temperatures are taken rectally with a digital or traditional thermometer. Make sure to lube the thermometer and tie a string with a clip to conventional thermometers.
  • You can easily take a respiratory rate by counting the number of breaths for 15 seconds and multiplying it by 4. This gives you the number of breaths per minute.
  • You can take a pulse from several points on your horse, including under the jaw and at the back of the pasture. It can also be taken with a stethoscope. Count the heat for 15 seconds and multiply it by 4 to calculate beats per minute (BPM).
  • Hydration can be checked with a skin pinch test. Pinch the skin on the neck and let go—it should quickly snap back to the muscle. If the skin tents for more than ~1-2 seconds, your horse may be dehydrated.

Normal Vital Signs for a Horse

Print out the normal vital signs for a horse and keep them with your medical kit for easy reference. We've included the normal vital signs for an adult horse. Foals and newborns will have different normal vital signs!


  • Temperature: 99-101°F (37.2-38.3°C)
  • Pulse: 28-44 BPM
  • Respiration: 10-24 BPM
  • Mucous membranes: Moist and pink


  • Nicki Gruss
    Dec 01, 2023 op 09:48
    Thank you so much. The information was so clear and informative and I am forever grateful for your help. I am proud to be a member of the Parelli family. Merry Christmas and happy new year May 2023 be good for all. Fondly Nicki

  • Myrlene Frady
    Dec 01, 2023 op 09:46

    Love these latest emails and the content !
    Used this one to make a gift to a friend for her new barn .
    Thank you for always being ahead of the pack ❤️


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