Traveling First Aid

Annie Budiselich was here the other day and she retold the drama of having her daughter Tulie’s lovely horse stuck in the trailer on I-90. Through creativity and sheer strength, they did a great job extracting the horse out of his predicament (no, he was not injured).  However, I am prompted to write this blog about first aid that you should travel with so that should something awful happen to you, you can at least apply something to your horse’s wounds to make him feel better and heal

“Where is the *7#$%T^& thing??” (photo by Julie Hook, 2012)

faster. Above all, you will not feel helpless and at the mercy of others when you ask to borrow a thermometer.

First rule of trailering: trailer with the essential needs for safe travel. By this, I mean that you should always have a trailer jack or tire changer with you at all times.  If I had a 16 year old horsey girl, I would require her to use the darn thing at home and get used to it so when there are semis flying by 10 feet away she still knows what to do and isn’t waiting for some knight in shining DOT truck to pass by. Some other must haves are buckets and a container of water, clean towels,  grain and electrolytes, hay and blankets (thinking about winter here). The grain I find helpful because you can induce some interest in water if you add a handful of grain and make what we call “yummy water”. They snoofle around looking for the grain and perhaps get a few gulps ingested.

And then there is the oft talked about First Aid Kit. Here is the list of things that I always have in there:

  • digital thermometer
  • Gauze 4×4 squares
  • gamgee cotton
  • vetwrap
  • saran wrap
  • diapers
  • duct tape
  • epsom salt
  • animalintex poultice
  • previcox and bute paste
  • betadine scrub
  • alushield spray
  • clotting powder
  • desitin ointment
  • neosporin ointment
  • saline solution with large syringe to irrigate puncture wounds
  • DMSO roll on
  • furasone ointment for sweats
  • soaking boot
  • poultice
  • various needles and syringes
  • dexamethasone granules
  • banamine
  • ace
  • pocket knife
  • scissors

I keep all these things in a small plastic trunk that never leaves my trailer and takes up very little space. When you are at a show and there is a mishap, I can usually always find a way to treat the horse so the wound/injury doesn’t get worse. Here are a few examples of how I would use the stuff:  DMSO is in case a horse whacks itself on the splint bone and pops up some swelling, dex can be very helpful when a horse breaks out in hives from the new bedding, animalintex poultice is like any other clay poultice and I use it to remove heat and swelling from an injury to a leg or hoof that is not an open wound. Desitin is my go-to ointment for any type of abrasion caused by bell boots or galloping boots and furasone is great for a sweat to an area with edema.

And then I have a separate farrier kit that also lives in the trailer. It takes up so little space that I often forget its there:

Nail puller, rasp, soaking boot, Old Mac boots and Magic Cushion

Small but helpful when you need it! The duct tape and required diaper are in the first aid kit for when the shoe does come off and I need to protect the throughbred’s delicate, shelly feet with Magic Cushion. Magic Cushion is a great paste product that contains Venice turpentine to take the sting out of the newly naked foot. I like Old Mac Boots better than EZ boots because a) I can get them on and off without cursing up a snowstorm b) the boots don’t have the metal spikes that grab the hoof wall and perhaps grab my hand, fingers or coronet band in the process of putting EZ boot on horse. That is a product that I have never been friends with.

To Wrap of Not to Wrap, that is the question.

This might be the most discussed subject on Thursday mornings as we groom the horses and get ready to load them up. I have some fairly firm feelings on the subject that are based on real experiences I have had. Others have had opposite experiences and Im sure are willing to go to bat for their methods. But here is what works for me:

I always use tall standing wraps all the way around for every trip. My horses sometimes do have bell boots on, and sometimes don’t. My favorite horses wear the shock absorbing gellies on their front hooves to reduce the road rattle to their bones.  I have had very very very bad luck with the tall shipping boots that they sell in the catalogs with the large Velcro attachments. To me, this product is difficult to keep sufficiently clean and when you put them on a leg you create a moist, warm environment with sweat and bacteria to help create an exciting dermatological experiment. On Saturday when you try to put the galloping boots on your horse and he falls down with pain when you touch his legs…. You will know the reason why. You can put clean standing wraps underneath these boots and probably prevent the skin meltdown, and most people do this on Sunday on the drive home when the horse is bandaged anyway after his tiring weekend. But on the way to the show is often overlooked in lieu of getting out the door in a hurry. I think that if you have a horse who kicks in the trailer then the tall hind boots are probably necessary to protect him from capping his hocks. And a stable wrap is then a very good idea to help dull the impact when, not if, he kicks his other leg himself.

So there you have it. Meika’s few tips on trailering safely.  Surely, I have overlooked something and this is a subject that you should ask experienced horsemen about. The oddball accidents do occur and most are preventable, and you can learn a lot by asking questions. I know Michael Pollard is going to write some good articles about trailering safely this fall, and you can find them on his website:

When something bad does happen, I have found that DOT workers are the MOST helpful people around. Paramedics and

Our worst nightmare. Thankfully, this was an RV, not a trailer.

officers look at you like you are crazy (picture Annie B with wild hair racing about to secure the scene!) while DOT guys are used to heavy machinery, strange metal contraptions, and don’t mind getting their hands dirty. I have nothing but gratitude when they were the first to show up for my past mishaps and last to leave.

Happy travels!


One Response to “Traveling First Aid”

  1. Annie B

    In the wake of Forest’s trailer ‘episode’ I have been thinking of a couple of things … #1. Getting a hair cut! #2 Putting together and Emergeny Trailer Tool/equipment kit When it comes down to it, we are our best resource. I agree with Meika, DOT guys are GREAT. 911, Emergency services – not so good, especially if you are on a mountain pass or off the beaten track on a weekend (isn’t that always the case?). Takes too long for them to get to you. Some things I wished I had had: a heavy duty hammer, tie down/towing straps (the great kind that hook on and rachet down), some big wooden blocks. And I am open to good suggestions.
    Thank you Meika. I always love reading your blog!

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