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Required Equipment for Rally: Equine First Aid Kit
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The items in the Equine First Aid Kit were selected to:
  • Help perform emergency first aid on injured horses
  • Assess the condition of a horse
  • Make a horse more comfortable after a day of competition.

The bandaging materials listed in the Equine First Aid Kit are geared toward the treatment of multiple emergency leg wounds, with the worst injury during competition being a traumatic leg wound that required blood stoppage.

Some definitions to be aware of:

Expiration Date

The date for a drug estimated for its shelf life with proper storage in sealed containers away from harmful and variable factors like heat and humidity. The expiration date of a medicine is based on data, called accelerated stability data, from testing by the manufacturer, that show the product will be good for a particular period of time. Drugs have half-lives and as they mature, they can experience changes in their potency and become stronger or weaker. No expiration date on a package means the product contains no 'real' antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic or anti-fungal ingredients in the pharmaceutical sense of the word. Items that should have an expiration date are tagged Expiration Date ALERT!

Shelf Life

Shelf life specifies the period of time which a product can be stored, under specified conditions, and remain in optimum condition and suitable for consumption. It is also the length of time that a given item can remain in a salable condition on a retailer's shelf. Items that might have a shelf life are tagged Shelf Life ALERT!

The "/" symbol

In medical terminology "/" means "or" so the topical agent you use needs to say on the packaging that it is either antibacterial, antimicrobial, or antibiotic (or any combination of the three).

Antibiotic

"Literally means 'pertaining to against life'. "An antibiotic is a drug that kills or slows the growth of bacteria. They are relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections. Antibiotics are not effective in viral, fungal and other nonbacterial infections, and individual antibiotics vary widely in their effectiveness on various types of bacteria." (excerpted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic)

Antiseptic

"An antiseptic is a substance that kills or prevents the growth and reproduction of various microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses on the external surfaces of the body. The objective of antiseptics is to reduce the possibility of sepsis or infection by germs. Antibacterials have the same objective but only act against bacteria. Antibiotics perform a similar function, preventing the growth or reproduction of bacteria within the body. Disinfectants operate on nonliving objects such as medical instruments." (excerpted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiseptic)

Antimicrobial

"Literally means 'pertaining to against microbes'. An antimicrobial is a substance that that kills or slows the growth of microbes such as bacteria (antibacterial activity), fungi (antifungal activity), viruses (antiviral activity), or parasites (antiparasitic activity). Antimicrobial is a general term for something that kills or interferes with bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites."(excerpted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiseptic)

Antibacterial

"Literally means 'pertaining to against bacteria'. In its broadest definition, an antibacterial is an agent that interferes with the growth and reproduction of bacteria. While antibiotics and Antibacterials both attack bacteria, these terms have evolved over the years to mean two different things. Antibacterials are now most commonly described as agents used to disinfect surfaces and eliminate potentially harmful bacteria. Unlike antibiotics, they are not used as medicines for humans or animals, but are found in products such as soaps, detergents, health and skincare products and household cleaners." (excerpted from: http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/Q&A/Q&A_antibacterials.html)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is there no peroxide in the Equine First Aid Kit?

Peroxide has very little value as an antiseptic. The foaming action can actually undermine a wound and cause more damage than the original wound. Peroxide can be useful when treating a surface wound, but flushing it with lot of cold water to lift and float off surface debris will do the same thing.

Treating Minor Wounds (excerpted from The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship, C Level, pages 230-231)

  • If a wound bleeds quite a lot, press a gauze pad firmly against the wound.
  • If possible, hose the wound and the area around with a gentle stream of cool water for ten minutes to dislodge dirt and particles.
  • Clean the wound gently using water and an antibacterial soap or scrub. Use gauze pads instead of cotton which can leave fibers in the wound. Clean the area above the wound first and work your way down, discarding gauze pads as they become soiled.
  • Gently blot the wound dry with a sterile gauze square or allow to dry without touching.
  • If the wound is small, apply a small amount of antibiotic/antimicrobial/antimicrobial cream. Some veterinarians prefer that you don't put anything at all on the wound. Don't use peroxide, alcohol or iodine or any other strong antiseptic on the wound as these can damage the tissues and may interfere with healing.
  • To dress the wound, place a large sterile, non-stick gauze dressing over the wound, then if needed pad with roll cotton and apply a stable bandage.
  • If the wound cannot be dressed, check it frequently to make sure it is not becoming contaminated with dirt or bedding. If it gets dirty again clean it with gently running water. Don't scrub the wound as you may damage the healing tissue.

Requirements:

  • One kit per team
  • Kit should be easily accessible
  • Sufficient supplies for all mounts on team
  • Labeling: Everything should be labeled with team name or initials or the name/number of any team member. Loose items should be in a bag or container labeled with team initials or name.

Petroleum jelly: Primarily used to lubricate the thermometer. It can also be used on chapped heels (from standing in mud) to protect them from wet and weather.

  • Should be: Should be at least half a jar.
  • Good tip: It is a good practice to use latex/vinyl gloves or gauze squares when applying any topical so as not to contaminate the agent. Buying squeeze tubes lessens the chance of contamination.

Veterinary thermometer: (with thong and clip or digital thermometer). Used for taking a horses temperature. Before using wipe with alcohol to disinfect, then apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly. Clean after use with alcohol.

Glass thermometers: 

  • Caution! Use care when opening the case as often the thermometer has broken.
  • Make sure the thong and clip are attached and ready to go.
  • Shake down to make sure it is reading correctly. If there is a space in the filling liquid then the thermometer is no longer accurate.

Digital Thermometers:

  • Turn on a digital thermometer. If you turn it on and see a 'L' it means it's ready to go (not low battery).
  • Digital thermometers are intended to be held in place during use. They take temperature readings quickly and beep when they are finished.

Shelf Life ALERT!

Body wash or liniment: a small amount can be added to wash water. Does not need expiration date.

  • Should be: Bottle should be at least half full.
  • Good tip: put it in a ziplock bag so it doesn't leak.

Shelf Life ALERT!

Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol, also known as Isopropyl alcohol. Used to clean and disinfect items like bandage scissors and thermometer. Does not need expiration date, may have shelf life date.

  • Should be: Bottle should be at least half full.

Shelf Life ALERT!

Antimicrobial or Antiseptic scrub: An easy way to think about the difference between an Antimicrobial/Antiseptic 'solution' and a 'scrub' is that the solution is to treat a wound and the scrub is to clean it. Somewhere on the label the words 'antimicrobial' or 'antiseptic' must appear.

  • Should be: at least eight ounces.
  • Shouldn't be: a solution
  • Good tips:
    • A scrub can be made from a antimicrobial/antiseptic solution by adding a quarter to a third of the volume in liquid soap, then after mixing it gently pour a little out and see if it makes suds or at least feels slimy between your fingers. In addition, there are several liquid soaps (Dial is one) that can be bought at a pharmacy that are antimicrobial/antiseptic and would be acceptable.
    • Because scrubs usually come in large bottles, it is permissible to decant into smaller plastic bottles with tightly fitting lids and mark with what it is, shelf life date, expiration date and team name.

Expiration date ALERT!

Topical antibacterial or antimicrobial or antibiotic agent: Must contain the words "antibacterial" OR "antimicrobial" OR "antiseptic". MUST have a current expiration date.

WARNING: While the active ingredients in topical agents are effective in the treatment of wounds in horses, they can be hazardous to your health. It is a good practice to use latex/vinyl gloves or gauze squares when applying these topical agents.

  • Should be: at least two (2) ounces (which is roughly the amount of a half-stick of butter)
  • Shouldn't be: anything without an expiration date. No expiration date means no active ingredient.
  • Good tip: Human treatments, like Neosporin, are an acceptable topical agent but you would need at least 2 ounces to treat a horse. This makes it more expensive then many equine specific treatments.

4" sterile wound dressings: Each dressing must be individually wrapped to be sterile. The USPC Manual of Horsemanship, C Level (see 'Treating Minor Wounds' above), recommends a minimum of four to treat a minor wound; two to clean, one to blot then one to dress.

  • Should be: At least four dressings in sealed packages that say "sterile".
  • Good tip: additional sterile wound dressings of other sizes may be included.

1 roll gauze (at least 2" wide): This is very helpful in keeping a gauze pad in place over a wound.

  • Should be: at least one roll.
  • Good tip: roll gauze can be the brown type that veterinarians use, or stretchy cling gauze available in grocery stores.

1 lb roll of 12" absorbent practical cotton: Used when building a bandage over a bleeding or oozing wound, otherwise typically the other padding's (pillow, no bow, sheet cotton) are used.

In building a bandage, the first layer against a wound would be sterile gauze pads (or telfa pads) and sterile roll gauze. OVER this sterile layer would be a layer of practical absorbent cotton (sterile or non-sterile), then a leg wrap to hold all in place. Given this bandage formation, only the 1lb roll of practical absorbent cotton makes sense. Further, with absorbent practical cotton, there is no "barrier" plastic layer or other extraneous parts to cause insult to bandaged area (retention of heat, increased moisture, binding plastic against skin, tabs taped on skin, etc.) and layering is easy.

Roll cotton is multi-purpose. For additional uses other than bandaging, roll cotton can be cut or pulled apart to make small sized pieces to use as a scrubbing cloth to cleanse or deride a wound with antibiotic/antibacterial/antimicrobial solution, or saturated with rubbing alcohol to use like a sponge to apply to an overheated horse, or cut to fit the base of a hoof to wrap as sole pad, etc.

Can be open, does not need to be sterile since it should not be used next to a wound.

  • Should be: At least 12" wide, can be wider; highly absorbent; at least one pound
  • Can be: Gamgee (3M Corporation), Kendall, Johnson & Johnson
  • Shouldn't be: pads, absorbent or not, disposable diapers, etc., are not wide enough nor of variable length to accommodate bandaging different sized legs or parts (forearm, carpus, cannon, fetlock, pastern, hoof, gaskin, hock). Should not be non-absorbent sheet cotton, the type used to make standing bandages.

2 flexible stretch adhesive/cohesive bandages: Very useful in keeping a gauze pad or other wound padding in place. Apply snugly enough to keep it in place, but use caution since it can stretch and cut off circulation.

  • Should be: checked every year to make sure they are still useful. They can break down over time and become a solid mass of rubbery stuff that you can't unroll, especially if they are left in hot environments (like cars or trailers).
  • Shouldn't be: an Ace bandage because they stretch too much and can cut off circulation.
  • Good tip: At the beginning of rally season take last year's flexible bandages and have members practice wrapping wounds. Their skills wil be refreshed, and you can replace with new rolls of bandages for the current rally season.

1 roll adhesive tape (1" minimum width):Very useful in keeping a gauze pad or other wound padding in place. This tape is specifically designed to hold bandages on, and is also known as cloth sports tape or bandage tape.

  • Should be: at least one full roll
  • Shouldn't be: masking tape, duct tape, cellophane tape

Bandage scissors: Should be blunt edged and capable of cutting through thick bandages. The blunt tip allows the scissors to cut close to the skin without cutting it.

  • Should be: blunt tipped. 
  • Shouldn't be: regular scissors - the points are too sharp. Should not be kid's school scissors.
  • Good tip: Tie a long piece of ribbon or landscaping tape to the handles then label with team name or initials.

4 leg bandages with appropriate padding for four (4) stable wraps: To be applied over treated leg wounds. Remember to bandage the adjacent leg to provide support.

Bandages: if bandages do not have Velcro closures, at least two bandage pins or strong safety pins per bandage must be included. Note that diaper pins may also be used but the plastic ends can shatter easily.

  • Acceptable: Track bandages, flannel bandages, knit bandages
  • Unacceptable: Polo-wraps

Padding: should be sized to fit every mount on the team.

  • Acceptable: No-bow wraps and pillow wraps are acceptable as long as they are the correct height and of sufficient thickness for stable wraps. Non-absorbent sheet cotton is acceptable but may take more time to fold to fit a mount. At least two bags (of 12 sheets each) are required to reach the minimum number of six sheets recommended for a stable wrap in the USPC Guide to Bandaging Your Horse.
  • Unacceptable: very thin quilted pads, usually the thickness of a mattress pad with a binding sewn along the edges. You would need several of these to achieve the correct thickness of a stable wrap.

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