All these emergency items, plus others of your choosing, will fit inside a saddle-horn bag that takes up about as much room as a loaf of bread. Make it a habit to take your packed bag on every ride--someday, you'll be glad you did.
When you take your horse out on trails, chances are you expect to have a fun, safe, relaxing time. And most of the time, that expectation is fulfilled. Yet as soon as you leave the relative safety of an arena and its controlled environment, you're in potential-mishap territory (true, whether you're half a mile or half a day?s ride from home). That's why it can really pay to be prepared, with "just in case" items stashed in a small grab-and-go emergency bag and carried on your saddle for every trail ride.
Here, to get you started, I'll share typical contents of the soft-sided emergency bag (it's red for a reason!) that's as much a part of my standard trail-riding gear as my horse's bridle and saddle. While not as extensive as the emergency gear that might be toted by a search-and-rescue deputy, this stash of items will get you and your horse (or that of a friend) through most minor trail traumas. You can add other items as you like, and as your climate and terrain might call for.
Duct tape. Multiple uses, from protecting a hoof that's lost its shoe to emergency tack repairs.
Elastic and cling-type wraps. Joint support, bandaging.
Reflective "space blanket." Preserves body heat, makes a ground cover.
LED flashlight. Multiple uses (especially if you get caught out after dark).
Filled water bottle. Many uses, from hydration or cooling to flushing a wound.
Stethoscope. For monitoring vital signs, gut sounds.
Coach?s whistle. Makes piercing blasts to call for help.
Latex gloves. Hand coverage for wound treatment.
Banamine paste. Help for colic symptoms.
Personal first-aid pouch. Holds gauze pads, stick-on bandages, aspirin, bee-sting pen, safety pins, etc.
Contact-lens solution. Flushes eye or wound debris.
Bandage scissors. Trims bandaging materials.
Multi-tool. Multiple uses.
Hand sanitizer. Helps prevent infection when treating wounds.
First-aid cream. Antibiotic and antiseptic properties.
For his comfort, balance weight carried on one side of your horse with an equally weighted load on the other side.
Use the multiple pockets of a fishing or hunting vest as an alternative way to carry emergency items.
For taking pulse/respiration rates, wear a watch that counts seconds (for rate per minute, monitor vital sign for 15 seconds, multiply by four).
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Horse & Rider.