Trail Terrors, Part 1: First-Aid Kit

Happy trails can turn to horror tales if you aren't prepared for hazards that can befall your horse on day rides or overnighters - miles from home, out of cell phone range, and far from your vet.
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Happy trails can turn to horror tales if you aren't prepared for hazards that can befall your horse on day rides or overnighters - miles from home, out of cell phone range, and far from your vet.

In this nine-part series, I'm going to tell you about eight common trail terrors your horse might encounter - and what to do if the possibilities become reality. Then, I'll tell you if you're inadvertently putting your horse at risk for each terror - and how to minimize those risks. Use my field guide, and you'll be able to safely handle these emergencies, perhaps turning a would-be disaster into only a minor setback.

I'm going to assume you know how to monitor your horse's vital signs. I recommend that you get in the habit of riding with a running watch, or one with a second hand, so you can effectively monitor these signs. I'll also assume you always follow trail riding's first rule of safety: You never hit the trail without a riding buddy. Ready? Let's ride.

First Aid Kit To handle the emergencies I'll tell you about soon, you'll need to carry a complete trail first aid kit - and know how to use each item in it. This list of must-haves can help you cope with the most common emergencies you're likely to encounter, but won't weigh you down - you can pack it all into a small cantle bag:

Barb Crabbe, DVM, is a contributing editor at Horse & Rider. Her advice can be found monthly in the Horseman's Handbook section of the magazine. She is an Oregon-based equine practitioner.

This article originally appeared in Horse & Rider magazine, May 1994