Larry Catt, D.V.M.
Larry G. Martin, D.V.M.

24 Hour Emergency
El Cajon (619) 590-1991
Ramona (760) 789-6845

Horse First Aid

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Normal Vital Signs:

Heart rate- 32-48 beats per minute

The heart rate can be found by listening with a stethoscope directly behind the left elbow. If you don’t have a stethoscope, you can place your hand behind the elbow and feel the heartbeat or place your fingers lightly along the underside of the jaw where a vein rests. Remember when listening to the heart there are 2 sounds, a lub-dub, that make up one beat. The easiest way to get a heart rate is to count the beats for 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4.

Respiratory rate- 12-24 breaths per minute

The respiratory rate can be found by watching the horse’s flank move in and out, or watching their nostril flare/air passage, each movement is one breath.

Temperature- 99-101.5 degrees F

The horse’s temperature is taken rectally; any human or animal thermometer can be used.

Mucus membranes- pink, moist, capillary refill time (CRT) 1-2 seconds

The mucus membranes, or gums, are observed above the front teeth. The CRT refers to the amount of time it takes for the gums to become pink again after being firmly but quickly pressed with one finger.

Routine Health Care:

Vaccinations twice yearly: A 5-way and West Nile at one visit and a Flu/Rhino and West Nile again 6 months later.

Dental exam: The horse’s teeth should be examined at least once yearly for any abnormalities or sharp edges, as they continually erupt.

Deworming: Either daily deworming with Strongid C2X plus twice yearly paste de-worming with Ivermectin or bimonthly paste de-worming using the following recommended protocol: January & July use Strongid; March & September use Anthelcide; May & November use Ivermectin.

The following problems constitute an emergency:

  • Puncture wounds of a joint, tendon sheath or the foot.
  • Wounds to the eye or severe eye pain.
  • Severe lameness/ reluctance to move, or any known fracture.
  • Dystocia (difficulty foaling)
  • Colic (not eating, kicking at belly, looking at sides, rolling, etc.)

Fist Aid Kit:

  • Thermometer
  • Stethoscope
  • Bandage Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Roll/Sheet Cotton
  • Brown Gauze
  • Telfa/non-stick pads
  • Kling Gauze
  • Vetrap
  • Gauze Pads
  • Chlorhexidine/Betadine Scrub
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Bute
  • Banamine Paste
  • Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin
  • Furacin
  • SSD)
  • Diapers (size 1 for foot bandage)
  • Exam Gloves
  • Eye Ointment (BNP)
  • Electrolytes
  • Saline
  • Tape
  • Shoe Pullers
  • Fly Spray
  • Hemostats
  • Towels
  • Poultice (Hoof or Limb)
  • Watch
  • Permanent Marker
  • Dosing Syringe