A Trailering Essential
By: Dr. Rick Norton*
EquiMedic USA, Inc.
The often quoted advertising phrase, “Don’t Leave Home Without It” is easily applied to many products these days. Whether you are a serious trail rider, an occasional trail rider, or a professional at covering the beauty of the nation’s geography and topography, you wouldn’t leave home to go trail riding without your horse.
Like wise, you should never load that horse into your trailer to head on down the road for any reason, with out the proper emergency medical supplies on board, in your trailer, and appropriate for being away from your barn emergency first aid kit, as well as your local veterinarian.
Your horse is an investment of love, time and hard earned income, garnered from some source. Whether you look at an emergency kit as an insurance policy on that investment in your horse, as an emotional insurance policy on an equine partner which you care about, as an obligation to an animal that relies on you for care, or as an ethical or legal responsibility, you should consider it your obligation to own and have on hand at all times, and in all places and situations, the necessary first aid equipment to tend to that horses’ needs, should he become ill or injured.
It is a fact in this country today that most horse owners are not equipped with the appropriate or the necessary first aid equipment for their horses, for a number of reasons. We hear excuses such as: “Haven’t gotten around to it yet.”; “Don’t know what I need in a first aid kit.”; “Don’t know where to go to purchase a kit or emergency supplies.”; “I never need first aid supplies.”; “I can’t afford a first aid kit.”; to the most common excuse: “I’ve been meaning to get around to that.”
A first aid kit is as necessary to the care of your horse as is his water pail, feeding bucket, brush, blanket, shoes and vaccinations. As a totally mobile society with our horses these days it has become an essential necessity to have a first aid kit that is designed to be left permanently in your trailer.
We hear of many horse owners who intend to try to make their barn first aid kit double as a trailering kit as well; and that never works. Most of the time a barn kit gets forgotten in the barn and left behind as the dust settles behind the horse trailer in the driveway.
The other problem with that plan is that the one kit is never where it is needed most. When your one and only equine emergency kit is gone from home on the trailer, nothing remains to take care of the horses left at home base in case of an emergency.
Having the required first aid supplies and using them properly can mean the difference between closing and treating a wound or having to leave it open for a longer healing outcome, at best. The properly healed wound may even be more aesthetic or functional when cared for immediately and with the appropriate products and healing agents.
Either plan to create your own trailering kit to always be maintained in your trailer, or purchase one that has been designed for traveling with your horse. As compared to your barn kit, this mobile kit will probably be similar but smaller, and not need to hold as many product types or the quantity of products that you would maintain in your barn kit at home.
A simple but necessary tool for your trailering kit should be your hoof pick. Keep it handy and readily available. Horse hoofs should be picked and cleaned out before loading, in case a stone, pebble or hard product is embedded in a hoof. You wouldn’t want your horse to get sored from standing on a rock along many miles of road travel.
Leading your horse out of your trailer at the trail head only to find him lame because of a piece of hard debris which could have been removed at home, would be a very disappointing way to end a trail ride before it could begin. Likewise another handy and necessary piece of common sense equipment for your trailering first aid kit would be a small pen-lite flashlight; accompanied by an extra set of fresh batteries.
First aid supplies needed in a trailering kit should include products for injuries, sprains and strains, laminitis, and a good quality electrolyte to keep your horse drinking water he is not used to, and to keep him fully hydrated.
Flavored electrolytes to add to the water should keep him drinking – a huge concern while traveling. If your horse should go off water, he could become quite ill and be of little use to your plans for trail riding or competing. A paste electrolyte might offer further assurance if the powered electrolyte added to water doesn’t cure the problem of actually drinking. Paste electrolytes could be forced orally to help maintain hydration for short periods of time.
Puncture and tear wounds should always be anticipated in a trailering emergency kit. Sterile dressings in several sizes, non-sterile, sterile and non-adherent should be packed in your emergency kit along with a good quality cohesive bandaging material, as well as some adhesive tape, and elastic adhesive bandaging, which can offer a short term method for keeping bandaging materials on a wound in areas of the body where a cohesive wrap might not work well.
A good wound flushing product and or eye wash should always be included for wound and eye irrigation and quick cleansing of a wound area for removal of foreign materials. Pressurized saline solutions work well and stay free of contamination. Bottled saline solutions will need to have a bulb syringe or hypodermic syringe without needle handy for wound irrigation.
At least one, if not two, wound or antibiotic ointments should be available in plentiful supply. Plan to have along exam gloves, and several types of medication applicators should always be handy for use in applying your wound treatment products to avoid the use of dirty hands which might contaminate your valuable products in the application process.
A blood abatement product should also be an important inclusion of your mobile trailering kit, as should a tourniquet, bandage scissors and a pair of tweezers for handling bandages and cleaning out large debris in wounds.
For the ordinary strains and over used muscle concerns liniment should always be available in your handy trailering kit. Cleansing and debriding products such as alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are considered standard products to have available while you travel.
Since your horse is more likely to colic while traveling and performing away from home, a good stethoscope should be considered to listen for normal to abnormal gut sounds. Early detection of non-functioning intestinal symptoms can mean a better and more successful prevention of colic.
By all means, your towing vehicle should also contain necessary first aid supplies for humans, which can sometimes be used on your equine partner as well. Make sure that there is a human first aid kit in your towing vehicle console or glove box – you may need that with or without the trailer and your horses in tow.
EquiMedic USA, Inc., the world leader in the design and development of horse and rider first aid kits, offers two trailering first aid kits: a large and a small kit developed specifically for being kept in your trailer, and serving your emergency needs while away from home.
The Small Trailering Kit is suited to treat from one to three horses and riders, and the Large Trailering Kit is designed for large, living quarters trailers and will serve from four to ten horses and riders. Visit the web site at: www.equimedic.com; or call toll free at: 866.211.1269.