Equine Veterinary Emergencies
Because people often attend to their horses in the early morning, evening, night or at weekends, that’s when emergencies tend to be noticed, so that’s when the duty vet is called, and he or she may already be busy elsewhere for the same reason.
It is therefore important that the owner remains level-headed and efficient before calling the vet. Good lighting, appropriate means of restraint, adequate clean water, charged mobile phone, accurate directions and a concise summary of the problem (to prepare the vet for what may be necessary to bring) are important to have ready and to have an emergency kit.
It may be vital that the horse is immediately transported to an equine surgery for further evaluation and treatment, so a functional horsebox (either your own or a friend’s) should be on hand. Telephone the surgery in advance to pre-warn them of your imminent arrival.
Fortunately mares seem to give birth without too much trouble, and they usually wait until all people are out of sight and it all happens very quickly, but occasionally they do have difficulties and can push so hard that they can damage the foal or themselves. Good preparation is the key, including a sufficiently large deep-bedded box, adequately lit (and keep human interference to a minimum). If you are there, don’t get between the mare and foal, but make sure that the placenta is removed from the foal’s nose and mouth. Uterine prolapse, excessive haemorrhage and umbilical herniation need urgent veterinary attention.
Not all equine colics are bad ones and many can be prevented with appropriate attention to worms. Remove food, try to minimise self trauma without getting hurt yourself and prepare a suitably protective stable.
Choked horses look very alarming, with bilateral nasal discharge and distressing attempts to clear the blockage themselves – again, remove food so that the problem is not compounded.
Many bone fractures in the distal limb can now be repaired and it is important to prevent the horse making things worse by moving around before the leg is stabilized.
Joint penetrations should be treated immediately, so injuries (however innocuous they appear) close to a joint demand immediate veterinary attention. A hosepipe and clean standing area are very helpful for treating wounds.
Eye injuries are emergencies and foreign bodies penetrating the cornea should be left for the vet to deal with.
If you need veterinary assistance in an emergency telephone us straight away on 01291 672637.
Emergency First Aid Kit for Horses
These are items you should have available where you stable your horse and when travelling:
- Mobile Phone
- Your vet's emergency phone number
- Insurance and breakdown insurance details
- Horse passport
- Bridle, halter, lead rope and lunge line
- Rugs - sweat rug/cooler and stable rug - more than one if possible
- Clean bucket with hot and cold water available
- Gloves, latex and riding gloves
- Cotton gamgee rolls
- Sterile wound dressing
- Vet wrap
- Sterile fluid such as hibiscrub or iodine