With all the rainy weather we’ve been having, I had plenty of time to sit around the clinic and pick the brains of Dr. Vurgason & Dr. Lacher. I had to get the scoop, the D-L, the 4-1-1, the Inside Story, on what our doctors keep in their own tack trunks. Now obviously everybody has gloves, their helmet, a crop, and a bag of those peppermint-flavored horse treats in case you forget to bring carrots. But what I was interested in was the medical supplies, the in-case-of-emergency box, right from the mouth of a bona-fide veterinarian!
When you peruse the aisles at your favorite tack supply store, you will find shelves upon shelves of medical supplies. Incidentally, there are also shelves upon shelves of cat treats, which are welcomed here at the office any time of day. Some people choose to buy all the medicines; which is fine if you enjoy spending money. Many of our clients have cabinets, shelves, bins, and boxes stocked full of every ointment, cream, spray, and powder you can imagine. But really there are only a few that you need, or that the docs might expect you to have on hand.
First, and this one should be obvious: duct tape. For any type of hoof injury, as well as various repairs around the barn, this is a must-have. Along with duct tape, baby diapers (size 1 for an average Quarter horse hoof, larger sizes for bigger feet) are excellent for hoof-wrapping. Another tack trunk must-have is Vetrap. Boy, do I wish I invented that stuff. I’d be lounging around in a cat palace on some island right now, rather than stuck in this office watching the rain with these humans. Vetrap is just the perfect balance of stretchy and sticky. It sticks great to itself, but not to anything else. Brilliant!
As far as ointments, creams, and the like, the docs gave me a hierarchy of wound dressings in order of preference: Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD for short), is an excellent topical antibacterial cream, great for any kind of wound. It is expensive, but if you buy the big blue tub it will last you a long time. Next choice would be the yellow stuff, Nitrofurazone (a.k.a. Furacin). Furacin is another good choice as a topical antibacterial wound ointment to have on hand. Beyond that, any type of Triple Antibiotic Ointment that you can find at your local drug store will do the trick. For open wounds, the docs wouldn’t recommend the ointments without antibiotics, the “natural” healing products, or Vetericyn (it is literally bleach-water, look at the ingredients)!
Swat is an old staple that is a good fly repellent to have in your trunk. It now comes in a clear formulation, not just the tell-tale pink that you can see from across the pasture. It’s important to realize, however, that Swat does not have any antibacterial properties, even though it is advertised for use around wounds. The only other cream I found in the vets’ tack trunks was Desitin (and no, it wasn’t for Dr. V’s baby). Desitin contains Zinc Oxide, which is great for treating burns, abrasions, or other wounds that need soothing and healing, but have a low risk of becoming infected. A&D ointment or Balmex are also good for this purpose. The docs have even used that on me (against my will) when my skin gets bad.
Other than that, just make sure you have some good antibacterial scrub for wounds (either betadine or chlorhexidine-based). Dr. Vurgason’s horse is prone to thrush, so she also had Thrushbuster on her tack trunk list. Dr. Lacher has a horse with insect allergies, so she also stressed the importance of a good fly spray (make sure it is actually a fly repellent, not just a fly killer).
So, to review, the official Vets’ Tack Trunk List: Duct Tape, Diapers, Vetrap, SSD/Furacin/TAB ointment, Swat, Desitin, scrub, fly spray, and Thrushbuster. Pretty simple, right? As my father Anthony would say, “clear as mud”! And if it’s not, just call us at the office anytime you have a question about any of the thousands of over-the-counter products out there, and we will be sure to direct you to the nearest doctor for their expert opinion. After all, they know what ingredients like Dimethyl Sulfoxide and Sodium Hypochlorite actually are. Remember to pick up some cat treats while you are stocking up on your tack trunk supplies!
Until next week.
Let’s talk brains. I know that cats have an overabundance of them and I understand you humans have been given some as well. The thing about brains is what you got is what you got so you better take care of what you got. Today we talk helmets. Yep helmets.
All day long I have to listen to how great these horses are. Some people even describe their horses as bomb-proof so they don’t need a helmet. Personally if a bomb goes near me you will see this black cat running faster than you ever thought a black cat could so I’m not sure why this is a good thing but I digress. Then I sit around at night reading the horse magazines and find out that Courtney King-Dye went to the Olympics in Dressage and fell off her horse at a WALK! A WALK! Her horse tripped and she fell off, landed on her head, and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Courtney is permanently debilitated from her injuries. A helmet would have meant she was a little sore and, maybe, a little bit of a headache and that’s it. Just a few weeks ago barrel racer, Lara Dewees, lost her life. Sure you can argue there were other factors involved there but a helmet may have helped. What I’m saying here is you guys have decided to sit on top of these crazy things called horses and accidents happen, so wear a helmet.
Now that I have convinced you to wear a helmet: let’s talk about helmet shopping. There are a ton of different brands out there. Try lots of them on. Some people have round heads, some people have oval heads, some people have long, oval heads. There’s dial-a-fit, adjust-a-fit, just fits on your head fit, shims, and more to get your hat to fit perfectly. Be sure the helmet you pick has a harness to keep it on your head and adjust said harness to keep the helmet on your head. It drives this cat crazy to see people with an excellent helmet on and a harness so loose even I could walk through the gap. A helmet must stay on your head when you hit the ground for it to work. Check the ASTM rating for your helmet. You will have to work hard to find a helmet that is not ASTM certified these days but just in case make sure the one you are looking at is tested. This means no helmets for other sports. Bike helmets don’t work the same as riding helmets!
If you need even more information on helmets there are some really great resources available: Riders4Helmets, ASTM.org, and SEInet.org. You only get one coconut, mind your melon, and value your head. In other words: Wear a helmet!