Emergencies on the Trail

When riding your horse in the woods or the wilderness, things can go wrong–and usually when least expected. Here are some possible predicaments you might face while out on the trail.

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Emergencies on the Trail
When riding in the woods or out in the wilderness, things can go wrong--and usually when least expected. | Photo: iStock

From lacerations to tendon sprains, here’s how to prevent and prepare for misfortunes far from home

You’re saddled up and ready to hit the trail on a beautiful spring day. Your horse is fit and ready to go. But we all know that when riding in the woods or out in the wilderness, things can go wrong—and usually when least expected. Therefore, it’s important to know the health and safety hazards you might encounter and be prepared to deal with an emergency. Here are some possible predicaments you might face.

Eye Injuries

When riding through the woods, your horse is at risk of getting smacked in the eye by a branch. If he’s squinting his eye or it’s tearing, he might have suffered a corneal abrasion. Or, if you’re riding out in a more open, arid region, windy conditions can stir up enough sand in the air to irritate the eyes and/or abrade the cornea. What can you do?

Heather Hoyns, DVM, of Evergreen Equine of Vermont, in West Windsor, recommends rinsing your horse’s eyes periodically with ophthalmic saline (available over the counter in the grocery store or pharmacy) as both a prevention and a treatment. Hoyns is an accomplished endurance rider and veterinarian with thousands of miles in the saddle over challenging trails throughout the United States. She also suggests adding to your first-aid kit a small tube of nonsteroidal ophthalmic ointment for lubricating injured eyes

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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