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Trail Riding Preparedness Begins Before The Ride




by: Dr. Rick Norton, D.V.M.

Equine Practitioner

Lincoln, Nebraska

EquiMedic USA


Be prepared out on the trails this season by planning a first aid kit now – YES NOW. When you’re miles away from your camp, anything can happen – THEN IS NOT THE TIME TO PLAN YOUR LIFE SAVING KIT. Mounted on even the most trail-wise horse, accidents can and do occur, and might find you too far away from help.

Never leave camp without a medical kit somewhere in your trail riding group. Being prepared demands that you plan or purchase a specialty trail riding first aid kit in advance. Don’t hit the trail without one.

A medical emergency out on the trail might involve the horse, rider, or both; and many emergency supplies can be used on either horse or human. In your trail riding group, someone should be the designated mount for carrying an adequate first aid kit every time you leave camp. If you’re riding out alone, that someone would be you.  

Consider the type of Trail Riding that you do, the size of the group you ride in, the compatibility of the horses in your trail riding group, the length of time you will be away from your camp, the severity or difficulty of the terrain you will be riding, and the wild life in the area that might contribute to your trail riding experience. Lastly, know what to expect out of the weather – you certainly don’t want the weather for an enemy out in the wilds.

If at all possible procure a map and have a location device of with you: a hand held Global Positioning System (GPS) device, or at least a compass. Don’t leave that cell phone in camp, take it along with you on the trail, fully charged. Communications is key in planning a safe trail ride of any duration. In some way, tell some one where you expect to be on your trip, what route you will take and when you expect to return.

Know not only your own horse’s capabilities and tolerances for trail obstacles such as water crossings, soft ground, rocky, narrow or steep ground; but have a good general knowledge of how the other horses in your group get along together and handle these same challenges.

Many first aid supplies for your horse could also be considered applicable for human injury, illness or emergency. Cleansing products are a necessity for any dirty trail wound. A bottle of eye wash can serve to flush a horse’s eye or a wound. An adequate supply of a blood abatement product known commonly as a Hemostat or “bloodstop” is a must in a trail emergency kit.

Antibiotic Ointment should be taken along in small individual packets and can be used on any injured party. Several sizes and types of wound padding, dressings and wraps should be along for the ride.  

Keep in mind, that in an emergency you could use what might be at hand for some types temporary wound care. Coats, clothing, perhaps even a saddle blanket’s clean side could be plied into use for the short term. Inexpensive and easily packed wound care dressings can include such items as baby diapers and feminine hygiene products.

Every trail riding kit must include a hoof pick, to be kept readily available. Procure a tourniquet and a several pairs of medical gloves. Disposable medical towels are handy for a variety of uses, and a small knife or scalpel should be part of your kit contents. Pack along applicators such as long handled Q-tips and wood tongue depressors for clean application of your ointments and medications. 

For people’s needs plan for the common oral analgesics (aspiring and non-aspiring types), sun burn, stomach indigestion, cuts, insect stings and bites, burn relief, lip balm, muscle analgesic, band-aids, dressings and insect repellent products for both horse and rider. Human products can be procured from a reputable first aid supply source in individual or “unitized” sizes.  

Your trail riding first aid kit should also be considered as a survival kit. In addition to a compass, have a flashlight packed along with fresh batteries, and a backup set; and a dry set of matches could be a life saver as well. A small red flashing device is also highly recommended.  

At least one instant cold pack and a bandage wrap can provide immediate pain relief for man or beast. The kit itself should keep your investment in medical products clean, dry and should secure safely to the front or rear of the trail saddle, out of the way of the safe and comfortable ride of the passenger.

For your convenience, EquiMedic USA has carefully designed a Horn Bag Trail Riding Kit which features 35 different products and 130 total items. This handy kit, in a bright red horn bag, includes sixteen specific human products and other necessary emergency items such as a compass, pocket scalpel, hoof pick and a flashlight. You can shop this trail riding necessity at EquiMedic’s web site: www.equimedic.com or call the company at 866.211.1269.