Horse First Aid

August 5, 2015

Very little is as nerve wracking for an equestrian as finding your horse injured and being unsure how to help. Keeping updated on animal health and first aid procedures can help you be ready in the event of an injury.

Remain Safe

Before rushing to your horse’s aid, ensure you can do so safely. Check the environment around the horse for possible dangers. Assess your horse’s disposition. Even the gentlest animal can lash out when frightened or in pain. If you cannot help safely, wait for help.


Checking vitals is the first step in determining how to help your horse.

  • Ensure the patient is breathing and whether breathing is labored or obstructed.
  • Find a pulse point and check heartbeat.
  • If possible, check the horse’s temperature.

Considering Help

You must determine if it is necessary to call for help, or if you can treat the injury yourself. The answer will depend on both the situation and the handler’s level of skill and confidence. Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian in your area if:

  • You are unable to stop the bleeding.
  • The wound is large or cuts deeper than skin level.
  • You think the injury is a puncture wound.
  • Any injury involving a joint.
  • Any time your horse’s movement is significantly impaired.
  • Any eye trauma.
  • You suspect that there might be more damage than you can see or internal damage.
  • You are unable to safely treat the horse yourself.
  • You are unsure of the appropriate treatment or how to perform it properly.


Whether you are sure you can treat an injury yourself, or need to care for an injured horse until help arrives, stopping the flow of blood from any wound should be high priority. Clean the wound thoroughly and use clean cloth to stop the bleeding.

Once bleeding is stopped double check that all wounds are free of debris and clean before you begin dressing them. Use an antiseptic to aid in cleansing. Apply an ointment and a protective bandage, making sure the pressure is even.

For blunt trauma and inflammation, apply cold water or a cold compress to reduce swelling.

Being Prepared

It is important that you are prepared for incidents before they occur. Educate yourself on animal health and first aid, many local companies offer classes. Keep a well-stocked equine first aid kit in case you should need it.

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