In an online forum recently I asked horse people, veterinarians and technicians “What can your veterinarian teach you to make you better at offering first aid on scene for your horse?” Their answers, hundreds of them, were completely different in scope plus expectations, and generated lively discussion. I collated their responses to provide the reader some insight.
NO STANDARD LEVEL OF EXPECTATION
To veterinarians, a “scene” is a very serious situation like entrapment or trauma. However, to horse owners, anything with potential to injure their horse(s) was a genuine concern, across a wide variety of experience level. Owners expressed interest in learning details – from triage, to correct TPRs, to giving first aid while waiting for the vet, to field euthanasia. Moreover, they admitted if they didn’t get it from their vet, Dr. Google or a fellow horse owner provided the education.
WHAT DO VETS THINK OWNERS SHOULD LEARN?
Veterinarians jumped right in with perspectives that owners could learn more about: basic colic assessment, eye problems, giving medications and vaccinations safely, and bandaging of limbs, feet, head. Other veterinarians mentioned wound care (what not to apply); clean and bandage versus get immediate veterinary involvement; and taking TPR/CRT correctly for reporting. They encouraged volunteering at endurance races for ride-vetting under the supervision of veterinarians.
Lively discussion ensued about getting owners to understand the legalities of doing something to a horse you don’t own (“playing vet”, liability, scope of practice,