Horse_Emergency_Aid.jpgBE PREPARED EVERY TIME YOU RIDE OUT ON HORSEBACK.  If you are riding in a wilderness area open to horses or not they WILL NOT come extract you in an emergency. See:  I originally published this article in 2011 and thought we were ready for an emergency.  We were NOT.  5/24/2014 at 2pm in the Shawnee National Forest @ Little Lusk in Eddyville we had a horrible horse accident and only GOD kept us safe.  I deployed my satellite emergency beacon, it worked!  One of our group caught up to a couple who had a permanent spot and knew the woods to send them for help.  Great!  We were able to talk to 911.  FANTASTIC.  They told her help was coming.  The US Coast Guard had our exact location per the emergency beacon.  The ATV's were coming in to get us.  WRONG

We rode with another couple and her horse reared in the creek bed on the way back took a bad step backwards and dumped her into the rocky creek bed then proceeded to step all over her in her efforts to get situated again.  The reigns had slipped to behind and under her saddle and had her head twisted.  Simple accident and if she had a compound fracture we would have been in great shape.  Instead she busted her head open, was unconscious, and then did not know what-where for another hour.  We kept her still and quiet for 5 hours in the creek half in water and on the rocks face down.  Thank GOD for the couple who came back although we did not believe them when they said, no one is coming.  They will not come into a wilderness area with any type of vehicle which is part of the Wilderness Act.   We ended up slowly lifting her with a horn bag around her neck as a temporary c-collar and putting her on a horse walking her out that way which was less than an hour away via the short cut our  new friends showed us. 

The really bad thing is that 911 and the US Coast Guard were not in the loop as they were telling us to hold steady they were coming.  Also, none of the permanent campers at Little Lusk of which they have more than 50 sites were aware of this ruling.  The great thing is they are forming a group to talk about it and how they can be proactive about getting help to others and we are going to do some emergency EMT training to be more proactive as well as adding to our list of required emergency gear.   What I found on the Illinois Dept. brochure is HERE


I know the list is long with the items I had listed in 2011 and the ones I am adding now with the NASAR listing, but realistically I ride with a cantle bag and ALL of this will fit in my large cantle bag and/or horn bag.  Adding to the list below:

- Kotex Maxi Pads:  Sanitary, Easy, and they do not stick to the wound.  x4
- Tampons:  If there is a large hole, they will close it up.  Learned that when my dog was injured. x4
- Whistle.  Hard to be heard in a vast wilderness and a whistle cuts through the silence easily avoiding screaming for help for horus
- LED flashlights x 4 they are small and you will need one for you and one for attaching to the horse so they can see the ground PLUS we would have been in there overnight and you want that light to last.  ***Strobe light option would be great.
- Disposable plastic c-collar
- Hoof Pick
- Salt *can be mixed with water for a wound wash
-  Rubber tubing (long enough to tourniquet thigh if needed)
- granola bars
- Eye wash 

- Space blanket Thin - reflective - warm
- Beef Jerky - Slim Jim Jerky Easy to pack, great protein food.
- Horse Treats & Electrolytes If you need help, they do as well. *be careful though as treats will make a calm horse hyper
- Dog collapsible bowl - Camper World and folds down into nothing Great for sharing water with your horses
- Review all medical supplies seasonally A lot of my stuff was damp from the changes of seasons.  We haven't used it for some time and my stuff was damp.
- Vet Wrap x2 minimum in bright colors.  Easier to see in the woods in case you have to leave them alone to go for help and just makes you feel better to see that bright color.  I wrapped Donna's head up with neon pink vet wrap and put the Kotex Maxi pad on there to stop the bleeding.  Worked great and we have laughted about it.
- Bottles of Ice water in the saddle bags.  Keeps cold longer and works to reduce swelling if you need ice.
- Batteries.  Our GPS went down and we were in unfamiliar trails
- CELL PHONE....Keep ONE off while you ride vs playing music, talking, and taking photos. When all cell phones go out after a long day, there is no way to recharge them.  You need a fail safe
- Lighter Logs, the thin small ones about 2" wide by 1/2" thick by 8".  I know it is a forest, but it gets dark & cold at night.  The frontier men & women traveled the wilderness and had fires, we can as well in an emergency situation.  Be Safe.  Be sure to ring the fire with rocks.  Put out fires with water and sand afterwards.  Check the area for heat just in case.  If we had been out there all night she would have frozen lying in that water completely wet and we were all solidly wet as well sitting with her!  Life before Habitat "with" commom sense.
- Check your area before you go in so if you need additional information, maps, or anything else you have it in hand and feel good about what the fastest route back is.
- Be prepared with some EMT training "Just in case"  We always depended on her as she was the RN in our group and never thought about what to do for her in a serious accident.  Had she not been able to move all parts of her body we would never have considered getting her out alone and would have waited it out longer OR gone back and gotton a vehicle to get her out ourselves. 

National Search & Rescue List Their minimum 24 hour emergency list items Not Covered in the new list or the 2011 list that are reasonable for horse back & trail riding include:  PUBLISHED PDF HERE

- Mirror * great idea they have plastic ones now.
- Zip Ties
- 2 Large Leaf Bags
- Leather Ties
- Baby Wipes
- Flagging Tape
- water purification tablets *I did not realize the creek water was so full of germs.  She had an open cut on her thumb about a week old and was wearing a brade for it and it got infected with cellulitis.  She was already on antibiotics for it and had to get more.
- Gloves, (I always wear my thin leather gloves and was thankful for them)
- Sharp Knife

Original Article February 22, 2011.  What would happen if there was an injury while trail riding? Are you prepared? Do you have medical supplies for the rider and horse? Can you get help? If you didn't return to camp would they know where to look? Would they even notice? We were not prepared initially and never really thought about it until we began riding as a couple in Illinois on several thousand acres and would sometimes not see other riders on the trails all day.  That is when we started thinking about it and getting prepared.

What did we think of first?  How do you notify help when it is needed?  I quickly noticed that should we have an accident, I would need basic medical supplies and the ability to contact help quickly with coordinates so they could find us. As I typically follow along without paying attention it would be difficult for me to find my way back to camp and should I be the one injured I absolutely did not want to be left alone in the woods for an unknown length of time. We already always took our cell phone which we thought of as an emergency line to help  BUT the AT&T signal does NOT cover 97% of the United States, atl least not in many of  of the areas we have ridden in such as Wranglers at LBL in Kentucky. Hayes Canyon in Illinois, Big South Fork in Tennessee, or Many Cedars in Tennessee. We could get partial service at the top of a hill and I mean partial.  Mark discovered a the ACR Beacon which we purchased at Cabela's for $359 and have not had to use as yet thankfully. But it is easy to pack in your cantle bag, waterproof, and easy to use should we need it. This unit sends an emergency beacon signal via NOAH which is accurate within 100 yards of your location. It is now there just in case  a train riding injury occurs, medical emergency, wood bees resulting in allergic reactions, a missing horse that somehow comes untied and can't be found....sound familiar. We have shared the information on the ACR beacon many times to others with similar concerns while camping. This is the number one piece of emergency equipment someone in your group should have just in case.   

If the ACR is too expensive I just discovered the ICEdot Link is: for $129 and it can be attached to your helmet.  Is not as water proof as what we had but monitors your position and issues you might have via your helmet. Great Idea. 

Medical Emergency, What do you really need?  I carry a basic survival - medical kit in case of injuries which can range from falling off your horse and needing a temporary fix for stitches to sprained limbs and EPI pen for my husband who is allergic to bees which we will talk about momentarily in their own segment as they are dangerous. The items I have listed will fit into a Quart size Ziploc bag so that it doesn't get wet and I carry them in my cantlebag with the ACR Beacon EVERY time I saddle my horse.   Examples:

  • Wound irrigation system to clean and close wounds such as alcohol swabs, antiseptic wipes, a 10cc syringe, benzoin, triple antibiotic ointment, and butterfly bandaids.
  • Medication for diarrhea, inflammation, allergic reactions, bee stings - insect bites such as after bite wipe (or wet tobacco in a pinch works), antihistamine liquid and tablets, Immodium AD, Extra Strength Tylenol, Ibuprofen and EPI Pen, antacit, cleansing pads, candle (long burning),
  • Matches in waterproof container, safety pin, tweezer, towlette handi-wipe
  • Bandana hankerchief, cap, flagging tape, lip balm
  • LIQUID BENIDRYL even if you are not allergic to stings. I discovered ground bees 3 years ago and have never been so happy to have the correct medical supplies.  More than a dozen stings will make you thankful for Benydryl.
  • Trauma pad and compression bandage for bleeding
  • Swift wrap elastic bandage with Velcro and Bandages (fabric 1'x3"), Gauze Sterile (2"x2", 3"x3", 4"x4"), a 5"x9" trauma pad, and Elastic wrap for fractures or sprains.
  • Pair of Gloves, Hand wipes, Scissors, Tweezers, a Safety Pin (which works wonders), and Duct Tape which we all know solves everything.

What about your horse getting injured or losing a shoe? When your horse goes down, your trail ride has ended and each of us cares deeply about our trail riding partner. A 1,000 pound horse is difficult to move and pack out so I include Bute, Vet Wrap, small rasp, cinchers, duct tape, NFS, and for injuries to stop bleeding the perfect "easy" product to pack are: Tampons (3), Maxi Pads (3), and Panty Liners (4) all women's products. Let me explain. These will keep a compress on a wound, are wrapped - sanitary, and absorb the blood away from the wound. I keep supplies in my barn as well. The tampons are for any puncture wounds to plug the hole then compress the top with a pad and vet wrap.  In a pinch easy supplies that are small enough to carry with you and work. 

For hot weather I include a bottle of water for my horse in the saddle bags that is frozen when we start and a 16" square of those new fabric chamois to clean cars as it will absorb lots of water to dry the sweat then pour the cold water onto it and place on her neck and chest. It will work. I also take horse treats as my mare loves them and on a long ride you eat a snack and she will need a boost of energy which this provides and as I said she loves them so it works either way. NOTE: Do not give more than a couple of treats as I can say from experience that 12 on a long ride will ramp up that sugar content to the point that a horse that is slow and broke for kids to ride will be ready to run and hard to handle.   

Easy ways to track your trail ride so you can get back to the camper. Mark bought a GPS years ago and it works wonderfully but I find it difficult to use even though I am computer savy. I prefer my Maps app which I have on my iphone and the Google Earth App as well. Interestingly enough I found that even when your cell phone will not make a call with AT&T my APP will be tracking nonetheless. Also, if you want to keep track of your trail rides, time you were gone, and mileage I have found the Cyclemeter APP on my iphone which I absolutely love. I am trying for 500 trail riding miles this year. Last year it was 294 but it was also my first year riding full steam after 5 knee surgeries which I will write about later.   

Remember your medical issues. I'm diabetic and have to remind myself of it often as I go long periods without having any issues taking my medicine and eating on time. Trail Riding is another matter as you loose track of time, are gone longer than you though, and most riders do not stop for a meal simply snacking. I will say that your sugar can bottom our quickly making the distance from the saddle to the ground real close which I am not found of.  Always tell your riding partners about medical issues, carry medicine, take snacks, and DO NOT take 5 hour energy drinks.

Tell someone where you plan to ride and how long. I know it sounds basic, but when we bought the ACR unit it was the first basic step they listed. We rarely told anyone where we are going or when to expect us back. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you didn't come back on time and how long it would take for anyone to notice "IF" they noticed? Then where would they start looking?  How long would it take for them to find you? I never gave it consideration until we rode in Illinois on thousands of acres as a couple where they DO NOT have great trail markers and you rarely see anyone while trail riding. 

GROUND BEES! Never gave them a moment's thought for 44 years. I know about them now though and have a healthy fear and respect for them keeping a vigilant eye for any sign they "may" be nearby. Think about riding through beautiful trails with soaring bluffs and sparkling water with friends then suddenly both you and your horse are frantic wantint whatever it is to stop. There was no warning, simply stinging pain and adrenaline mixed with fear which was pure hell. Mark as the lead horse had ridden across a ground bee hole which was maybe the size of a silver dollar in the ground.  Nothing sinister looking about it until you know what it is. Now also consider the fact that hundreds of yellow and black tiny bees are attacking the source of their home life disruption which my friend Judy and I were who they thought directly responsible. Our horses were terrified and thankfully well trained as we did not go flying off them and could control them enough to avoid serious injury. I simply wanted to jump down, tear off my clothes, and seek the source of the attack as we did not yet realize what it was it happened so fast dozens of stings for me more than enough for Judy. They key here is RUN FAR AND FAST several hundred yards minimum!! The important thing is to get as far away as quickly as possible while trying to control your horse who thinks you are directly responsible for whatever it is that is happening to her. Even when we finally came to a stop the bees where still attached to the horses and both of us. Luckily Mark was not stung as he took that notable moment to tell me that he was allergic to bees!  When we finally stopped I actually jumped / slid to the ground and started tearing my clothes of without a care for who else was riding with us brushing off the bees that were still with me. A fellow trail rider had seen ground bees before and immediately started peeling a cigarette, wetting it, then slapped it on my stings which will work.  I now carry After Bite with me. Another rider had Benadryl liquid thankfully. The horses were still blowing and had bees still clinging to them as well which we also took care of. I will say you learn what a truly phenomenal horse you have in situations such as this one. Evil bees and they are prevalent in late August August through September in areas where the ground is damp or wet. If you see yellow tape hanging from a branch in odd locations from now on think Ground Bees? This is thoughtful riders who have experienced bees and are trying to keep you from being attacked. 

I also discovered that being stung so many times will make you extremely sick and that thoughts of a relaxing Labor Day Weekend trail riding are no longer appealing as we both could only think of returning home to nurse our wounds. Another result of the attack made itself known this past fall while camping at Big South Fork when one lone bee stung me and I reacted with excessive panic and pain which was embarrassing however 15 minutes later I discovered why as I was flat on the floor and discovering what an allergic reaction was. Note: based on my experience in this situation as a diabetic, you can take 4 tablespoons of Benadryl and if that does not work wait 15 minutes and take another 2 tablespoons. In case of extreme reaction you need an EPI pen which I did purchase after finding out my husband was allergic and added to my medical kit; however, I used the Benadryl first and it was only one sting so it worked well.

5 Hour Energy?  NO....NO...NO  Mark has taken to bringing 5 hour energy with him camping. Riding all day makes it difficult to extend our evening hours to past 8pm and it works for him perfectly. I decided to try it at Many Cedars in Tennassee and luckily only took 1/2 of the small bottle as it tasted too sweet. It bottomed my sugar to below 40 within 110-The disclaimer says it works fast, they are right and the reason I note this is two reasons. One I did not immediately connect it with my sugar levels a RN working with me noted my demeanor and response and quickly put the two together. The other is NEVER forget trail riding and camping are for relaxing and there is limited help. Try new and possibly great things at home first.  I've found it is much safer and definately more relaxing.  

As I discover by accidental trial and error more things that may help you enjoy trail riding, I'll add them right here and if you have any tips you want to share please do not hesitate to give  me a call or Email me at Genesis Tennessee Walking Horse Farm in Slaughters Kentucky.  My Email The goal is to help others discover easy ways to truly enjoy trail riding safely and confidently. 

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