You’ve spent the money for a horse, shelter, tack, and a trailer to get you where you want to be with your equine partner. It’s been an investment to own a decent set up and get what you want. But tonight you found him injured, and you hadn’t gotten around to ordering that horse first aid kit just yet. So what do you do now? “Plan A” would have been to tend to your horse’s wound yourself, using your life saving equine first aid kit.
You could call your best friend who does have a great first aid kit and have him bring it over. But he might say: “I told you so.” That would have been “Plan B”; but you don’t want to put up with his sass. So what’s “Plan C” going to be? You could call your veterinarian to come out. But you know you’ll pay extra charges for after hours, and your vet will likely say “I told you so” as well; not appreciating having to leave home after dark to care for a wound you could have tended to had you invested in the proper equipment and supplies.
Looks like “Plan D” will be to wing it, if you want to save face, save a little money, and keep your world from finding out that you’ve put off investment in a good equine first aid kit. Procrastination will be your undoing someday. But for now, your reality is that you need to take action with whatever might be at hand.
So, some ground rules for winging it: CLEAN is your friend; CLEAN is your driving goal; CLEAN is what you need to attain, maintain, and retain. Your enemy is DIRTY. DIRTY will do you in, cause you grief, and could severely lengthen the healing time of your horse’s wound. DIRTY will likely bring with it anything and everything from germs, to viruses, disease, infection, cell destruction, and increased hide and muscle damage.
As in most any wound regimen, cleansing will likely be your first endeavor, with or without a first aid kit. Without you’d best hope that the household bathroom holds some primo products for your would treatment lineup. You’ll need to be looking for saline solution, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, iodine products, and/or benzelkonium chloride.
If your household bathroom can’t provide all or most of these products then WATER is your next best friend. Go for it; clean WATER, and plenty of it. There almost isn’t a point of too much WATER when it comes to cleansing a wound. Consider your WATER to not only be useful in cleaning dirt and debris out of your wound, but as COLD WATER, for it to hopefully aid in blood coagulating.
Plenty of clean cold water can slow down bleeding and hopefully bring bleeding to a halt. If your horse will tolerate water under pressure from a hose, flush the wound as much as you can initially, and often in the first few days after injury. Wound flushing is an important aspect of good wound care management.
Control of BLEEDING could be your next concern after cleansing. How you handle bleeding problems will depend upon what part of the body the wound is on, and how bad the bleeding is. Is the bleeding just from an outlying capillary source, or from a major artery or vein ? Arteries carry the blood away from the heart, and closer the wound to the heart, as the blood pump, the more potential blood loss you might have.
Blood abatement or hemostat products along with a tourniquet are must tools in your good first aid kit, but without these products you will once again be adlibbing. Pressure to stop the bleeding is what you will need to accomplish.
Tourniquets of course will only physically fit to work on a horse’s legs. Likely no other body parts will lend themselves to the tourniquet tool. But when you need one, and don’t have one, look for options and substitutes. A belt, a rein, curb strap, harness part, breast color tug, etc., could all possibly work to accomplish what a tourniquet would.
A pressure dressing might be your next choice for bleeding control. Compression bandages, as these are known, can be a savior to minimize or stop bleeding. Here, a dressing, or an amount of cotton, rolled or wadded into an amount about the size of the wound or the edge of the wound itself, is held in place, with pressure by the dressing wrap. As with all pressure applications, periodic release of the pressure is necessary to keep healthy blood flow to the body parts beyond the wound, which cannot be starved of blood flow for long periods of time. Appropriate wound dressings and wrapping materials to hold the dressing in place become the next concern. Without appropriate commercial dressing you’d best be looking fast at what you might have handy to work as substitutes.
You probably won’t find anything clean enough to utilize on an equine wound in your barn or trailer so you’ll be looking through your home or wardrobe for clean towels, blankets, sheets, a shirt, feminine products or even baby diapers if you have them handy. The latter two actually work very well in wound treatment, and can work especially well as compress dressings.
Torn up strips pf sheets, blanket, or towel pieces, as well as good old duct tape can work as wrappings to hold your dressings in place. Apply your dressing snug, but not too tight as to impede healthy blood flow.
Before application of the dressing to the wound, you will want to apply your healing ointments, antibiotic gels, etc., directly to your dressing, and not to the wound. If you don’t have what you need in the way of healing production and anti-infection agents, use an item such as petroleum jelly or Vaseline to help provide a protective covering for the wound to help keep infection out of exposed tissue and hide edges.
Keep Everything you need to apply to the wound CLEAN. Don’t dig into medication and ointment jars with your dirty and bare hands. If you can find clean exam gloves anywhere you will want to use those. If you can’t, clean your hands as well as possible. Use a clean item such as a table knife to dig into ointment or medication jars, and then apply to your clean dressing before going to the wound with the dressing. Remember CLEAN at every step of your wound treatment. Hold CLEAN as your guiding rule in the process.
Being responsive to injuries, getting and keeping the wound clean, controlling bleeding, and protecting the injured tissue are the main agendas you will have to attend to while adlibbing what to use for products and supplies. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of cleansing products, and do your best to promote quick and healthy return of good tissue cells to the injured area, to minimize the down time of your horse.