The old adage states that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that is especially true in emergency situations, and even more so with horses. Emergencies at an equine facility can range from a horse with a wound, illness, or colic to a barn fire to natural disasters and beyond. Preparation can reduce the impact of these events and increase the chances of a happy outcome.
First, have your veterinarian’s contact information posted at your barn. Having the number (including after-hours contacts) accessible for all gets the vet on their way faster. Next, make sure that there is a plan to transport horses off of the property if needed. If you don’t have a trailer, identify a friend or neighbor who could haul a horse, and have a conversation about this ahead of time. Their number should be listed next to the veterinarian’s number. Anticipate where horses might go for advanced care and know in advance the best route there. Next, have stocked first aid kits in the barn and trailer. This should include a stethoscope and thermometer. Make sure you can hear the heart beat and take the temperature of horses in the barn. Having information on heart rate and temperature is useful if you need to call a veterinarian with an emergency.
Last, have a plan for what to do if….. and that’s where that big list of possible things going wrong comes in. Planning ahead for possible health problems, bad weather, etc. makes it easier to stay calm and manage a situation should it arise.