The Equine Medicine Chest
By Don Blazer
You’re horse’s medicine chest is probably a disaster.
So every year about this time I try to clean it out and restock.
When restocking, don’t overdo it. You really don’t need as much as your horse-o-chondriac thinks.
You’ll need a thermometer. Get a good one. All thermometers are hard to read. (I don’t like digital ones). You can roll a thermometer in your fingers a hundred times and still not see the mercury. So select a thermometer on the basis of how easy it is to read. (A little practice will help, but where is the fun in that? It only makes you “overly prepared”.)
You’ll need some blunt surgical scissors. It’s not so much that you might need to protect your horse when you cut off a difficult bandage; it’s so you won’t stick yourself when he moves his leg at the worst possible time.
You’ll need several rolls of cotton. These are for leg injuries. Don’t let them out of their wraps for any other purpose. Once a roll of cotton sees daylight, it will immediately jump into the dirt, tear itself and suck hay, straw and shavings into its layers.
Rolls of cotton should be forbidden to move.
Get a small bag of cotton balls. (A small bag will last you a thousand years since you’ll probably never use them….they are there to keep you from touching the cotton rolls.)
It’s important to have several rolls of gauze, at least 8 quilted pads for leg bandages, four cotton knit leg wraps for standing bandages, some masking tape for holding wraps that won’t seem to stay in place and some duct tape for use on feet.
A bottle of rubbing alcohol is required, as is your favorite non-irritating antiseptic topical dressing. (Always have a water-soluble topic dressage ointment to be slapped on nasty gashes, tears or rips while waiting for your vet to come and put in some stitches…vet’s hate when any dressing can’t be easily washed away.)
You should also have a bottle of your favorite liniment for use on sore muscles and under standing bandages. I like a liniment with a nice aroma as I like to use it on my sore back muscles.
It’s a good idea to have a supply of clean rags, towels and soap. Dish soap in a squeeze bottle is nice. The soap and towels can be used to wash your hands before you treat a wound and the rages can be used to scrub up a scratch or abrasion.
You’ll need a cheap bottle of bleach for treating thrush and general cleaning of the bottom of hooves.
I like to have a supply of Butazolidin tablets or paste. I keep them and my bottle of aspirin handy; this way we both can get some quick minor pain relief.
You should have a drawing salve such as Icthammol and some type of medicated poultice for cooling inflamed tissue or drawing hoof abscesses, which will also be aided by the box of Epsom salts you’ll have.
A bottle of 7% iodine is a must; you’ll probably have to get it from your veterinarian as it is no longer on the market.
I have a rule: never give shots unless specifically directed to by your veterinarian. If your vet wants you to give injectable follow-up medications, then do.
And finally, keep a note book and pencil handy. They are good for jotting down remedies, telephone numbers, shopping lists and the dates various medications were given to your horse.
Invariably the vet will ask: “When was the last time Diablo had…..?”
And you put the vet in shock when you consult your book and say, “You administered it on June 1 about 9:30 a.m. You were late again that day.”