Equine First Aid Courses – Getting to Know Nicola and NKC Equestrian Training

I remember when I first took Hamish on back in February 2014, I said to my friend, “I wish they did equine first aid courses?!”. I’d never had a horse of my own to look after before then and felt I had little, to no, knowledge in equine first aid – even a minor cut would send me into a panic.

The chances are that most of us only really know about the things we’ve dealt with in the past. You may know the ins and outs of handling colic but feel overwhelmed when dealing with a laceration.

When I saw there was a company offering equine first aid courses, I knew right away I wanted to know more. The very lovely Nicola has been ever so kind, in chatting with me about the courses and giving me lots of information to share with you!

So, without further ado, let’s get to know a little bit more about Nicola and the background of NKC Equestrian Training…

Nicola has ridden from a young age and spent many years teaching as a riding instructor. “I love helping owners, whether that is perfecting their canter transition or updating their horse first aid knowledge.”

Nicola also has a love for science, and factual empirical studies (Nicola’s words were, “I’m such a geek”, but I actually think it sounds super interesting, don’t you?). Undertaking a Masters degree in Applied Equine Science at the Royal Agricultural University in 2010, followed by managing a large equestrian centre in Greece (where they had no vets within a 4-hour radius!) really inspired Nicola’s interest in Horse First Aid.

“The drive to start the courses was my wish to combine my passion for horses & science and wanting to offer assistance and help to owners and their horses. Also, having my daughter a few years ago spurred me on, as I wanted to be able work more flexibly.”

I caught up with Nicola to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions about the first aid training course. If you’re not sure if the course is right for you, you have some questions before booking or simply want to know a bit more of what the courses are all about, then read on.

What does the horse first aid course aim to provide the people taking part?

  1. A chance to update knowledge, with training owners can actually trust from our fantastic vets.
  2. Bust myths. So much information in the horse world is ‘old wives tales’. Social media / online forums, although often a fantastic community of advice, can promote Chinese whispers. All the information and recommendations on our courses are based on evidence and facts. There are a million and one products you can use but very little have empirical evidence behind them
  3. We want to empower owners to make better, more informed, decisions for their horses, feel confident about their decision making and know exactly when to call the vet and when not to. You get all of this as a result of attending the day.
  4. A relaxed, but informative day. We use lovely venues, provide lunch and refreshments and of course, there is plenty of opportunities to ask questions. I really want owners to fully maximise their investment of time and money on our training course. We also send out a series of emails with videos, prompts and reminders after the course to help owners put their plans into place and offer reference points from the day.

Do you work with vets to provide the course and training?

Yes. Our courses have been developed together with vets and we’re constantly innovating and updating our course materials. Our new online courses (the BETA version of the Horse First Aid Course online is launching shortly) features audio materials from our vets and even a quarterly ‘ask the vet’ feature too!

What can people expect on the day?

A full day of training, our course runs from 10am – 4pm and in that time we manage to cover a vast amount! Here’s what we cover on the course.

  • Knowing normal for your horse and preventative health care
  • The Horse First Aid Kit – what to have and why
  • Wounds and wound care – how to keep wounds healthy and which wounds need the vet
  • Key times to call the vet
  • Horsey Emergencies – choke, cast and nosebleeds
  • Colic – surgery, what to do and the early signs
  • Snotty noses
  • How to improve bio-security for your horse

What’s included in the course?

Refreshments and lunch are included as part of the day, as well as parking at the venue and printed materials, so that you don’t forget what you’ve learnt on the day. You will receive a full day of training with our vet, and gain a certificate from the BHS.

Support after the course. You will leave our Horse First Aid Course with your head buzzing with information and you’ll have lots of ideas to implement. You receive a series of follow up emails to help you put your plans into action, including videos, reminders about body condition scoring, and suggestions to improve bio-security.

Relaxed/supportive environment. We take care of the details of the day and the catering so owners can just sit back and enjoy the day.

Do you need to have any basic horse anatomy or first aid knowledge before attending?

No absolutely not. We try and ‘layer’ the information so that newer or less experienced owners aren’t overwhelmed.

If you have had horses for years and years, could this day still be useful for you?

YES 100%. As one of our lovely vets put it, ‘knowledge and experience are not necessarily the same thing’. We have welcomed equine lecturers, yard managers and owners onto our course.

Just like human first aid recommendations change over time, horse first aid knowledge needs updating exactly the same. Changes to colic care, wound care and healing, products to clean and dress a wound have changed dramatically. Despite owning horses for years owners might not always be making the right decisions based.

If you are a professional working in the equestrian industry, do you provide any certification that people can use to say they’ve had first aid training?

Yes – on this course all owners are provided with a certificate of attendance from the BHS. Very popular with owners as well!

Are there any practical elements to the day?

It is a classroom-based learning day, with lots of interactive elements. We have experimented with practical sections but it is so difficult to find suitable horses and safe environments to do this.

Is there any paperwork, leaflets or information to take away?

Yes, we provide handouts on the day, and a copy of the slides are sent out after the day. Owners are most welcome to get in touch with any questions after the course as well.

Do you offer more than just the equine first aid training days?

Yes, we certainly do! We have a Horse Anatomy Course, a short workshop on ‘Your Horse’s Skin’ and another short course on the ‘Respiratory System’ too and 2019 is set to be a busy year for us. We’re launching online courses; starting with an online version of our Horse First Aid Course, with an Equine Nutrition course launching late Spring too. And finally, we are hosting a small number of Equine Dissection Days also.

I am running the first ‘National Laminitis Awareness Day’ on 10th July, which is part of our drive to help more horses (and owners). The aim of this awareness day is to highlight this terrible disease, bust myths and provide owners with the facts to help them care for their horses confidently.

Now if you’re like me, you’ll be straight over to NKC Equestrian to book yourself onto the next course! I’ll be attending the course in Pulborough on the 30th March and I’m also lucky enough to be welcomed to catch up with Nicola again on the 16th February – so if you have any more questions, let me know and we will be sure to answer them for you via a live video on the 16th!

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