Equine emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s important to be prepared and have a readily accessible list of important phone numbers, insurance information, equine transportation options and your financial plan.
First aid kits are essential and should contain the following at a minimum: flashlight, thermometer, ice pack, antiseptic solution, a triple antibiotic ointment or cream, bandaging materials (gauze squares, stretch gauze, vet wrap, cotton rolls, adhesive tape and duct tape), antibacterial soap and shampoo, saline solution or contact solution, Epsom salts and pain medication (phenylbutazone (“bute”) or flunixin meglumine (Banamine®).
Minor illness or small injuries can quickly turn serious, so it is important to visually inspect your horse at least twice a day and determine what is a normal behaviour pattern for them. To determine if your horse’s health issue is an emergency you must know what is normal for your horse regarding their behavior, appetite and physiological parameters.
General parameters for horses are shown below.
Measurement Normal Adult
Heart Rate 28-50 bpm
Respiratory Rate 12-24 bpm
Mucous Membrane Color Pale Pink
Manure Output 6-10 well formed piles/24 hours
Preparation is key. If an emergency occurs, try to remain calm and use your plan. If your horse is kept at a boarding barn, ensure the manager or owner has all the necessary details in advance. Your veterinarian can help you devise a plan, advise when you’re concerned and treat your emergency.
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.