Allossery Equine takes pride in providing 24/7 mobile service for all manner of equine emergencies. If an emergency situation arises with your horse, pony or donkey, please phone us at 905-252-9080.
The list of equine emergencies we’re prepared to handle includes but is not limited to:
- Swellings, lacerations and punctures
- Eye injuries
- Acute lameness
- Illness (including fever, loss of appetite, dullness and diarrhea)
- Problems with pregnancy
- Foaling difficulties
- Sport horse injuries
Why horses get into trouble
Physical injury is a common cause of equine medical emergency.
That’s because our equine friends have a number of behavioural tendencies that increase their risk of acquiring bruises, cuts and wounds. These tendencies include: natural curiosity, a strong fight-or-flight response and a propensity to bolt without looking once they’ve panicked. When introducing new horses together, conflict that results from their need to establish a pecking order may also lead to injury.
Gastrointestinal pain – often referred to as “colic” – is another common equine emergency. From simple constipation to full-blown intestinal accidents such as twists and displacements, there is a long list of intestinal ailments that may affect your horse. Common signs that a horse is experiencing colic include:
- Pawing at the ground
- Looking at their flank, kicking at their side
- Raising of the upper lip
- Lying down, rolling
- Lack of manure production*
* Note: many horses experiencing colic continue to produce adequate amounts of manure, so do not rule out colic based on this alone.
What you can do in an emergency
If you discover that your horse is injured or in distress, the first piece of advice we can offer is to try to stay calm.
To the best of your ability, you should determine the cause of the problem and take action (if you have the appropriate training) before your vet arrives. Keep in mind that in cases of colic, illness or a subtle physical injury, the reason your horse is unwell may not be apparent.
Knowing your horse’s normal vital signs can be a big help as you attempt to assess what is wrong:
- Heart rate: 28 to 40 beats per minute (this can be measured by placing your hand in the left armpit of the horse and feeling for the heart beat)
- Respiratory rate: 8 to 16 breaths per minute
- Rectal temperature: 37.5 to 38.5 degrees Celsius. (Note, if temperature is >39C, contact us immediately. Temperatures above 39.5C indicate a serious disorder)
- Capillary refill time (time that passes before colour returns to gum tissue adjacent to teeth after press and release): 2 seconds
Do you have a medical emergency action plan?
No matter what medical emergency arises with your horse, having a plan of action will help you manage the situation more effectively. Here are some key components of a sound emergency plan:
- Keep your veterinarian’s number handy – post it in the barn, program it into your cell phone, make sure your barn staff knows where this emergency contact information is kept.
- Know in advance the best routes to nearby equine surgery centres. (We often refer to Milton Equine Hospital located at 10207 Guelph Line, Campbellville, ON, L0P 1B0 Phone: (905) 854-2111).
- If you’ll need help trailering your horse to hospital, know in advance the number of a company or friend who can provide this assistance.
- Post the names and phone numbers of friends and neighbours who can come to your aid until the veterinarian arrives.
- Prepare a first-aid kit and make sure your staff knows where it’s located.
First-aid kits can get quite elaborate, but the essentials for a starter first-aid kit are as follows:
- Surgical scrub and antiseptic solution (we use iodine soap and solution)
- Animalintex poultice pad
- Cotton roll
- Contact bandage (a telfa pad or, simply, a piece of Animalintex poultice pad)
- Cling wrap
- Adhesive wrap
- Leg wraps
- Sharp scissors
- Rectal thermometer
- Latex gloves
- Flashlight and spare batteries
Other equine medical emergencies
From heat stroke and puncture wounds to bone fractures and foaling difficulties, there are far too many different kinds of equine medical emergencies to adequately cover them all on this page. However, regardless of the emergency situation, it’s important to remember these points:
- Try to keep your horse calm. Your own calmness is a prerequisite to achieving this.
- Move the animal to a safe area where further injury is unlikely to occur should it go down.
- Get help from others and delegate responsibilities like calling the vet, bringing the first-aid kid and holding the horse.
- Notify your veterinarian as soon as possible. Be ready to provide specific, detailed information about your horse’s condition, including its vital signs as mentioned above, to help your practitioner triage the emergency and decide how to proceed.
- Do not administer drugs, especially tranquilizers or sedatives, without explicit instruction to do so by the veterinarian.
- Make sure you keep yourself safe – it does your horse no good if you get injured trying to help.
Despite your best efforts to prevent injury and to implement management routines that increase horse safety, there may still come a time when you are faced with an equine emergency.
We are here 24/7 to assist you in any way that we can. By partnering together – and acting quickly and calmly – we can minimize the consequences of injury or illness, and maximize your horse’s health and well-being.