Is your horse well? Does he appear to have an unusual behavior lately? When something is off with your horse, it always helps to check vital signs to identify every possible disorder or disease.
Vital signs are indicators of a horse’s critical bodily functions that help you know what’s normal and not with your riding buddy. Here are five (5) horse vital signs that you should religiously check and monitor.
Measuring your horse’s temperature doesn’t require a special thermometer. You can use either the traditional mercury or a digital type. To take his temperature, firmly and gently hold his tail at the base, then slowly insert the thermometer into the anus. A horse’s normal temperature is 96.6 to 101.3 degrees—and your reading should fall within the numbers. If his temperature is high without an obvious cause, it’s a sign of an illness.
When measuring his respiratory rate, you can use a stethoscope or watch the flare of his nostrils as he breathes in and out. Take note of the number of breaths per minute. The result is an indicator of his respiratory health. Normally, a horse resting respiratory rate is within 12 and 20 breaths per minute.
Pulse or Heart Rate
What vets consider as normal heart rate for horses is within the range of 20 to 40 beats per minute. If you record higher than that, it might be helpful to do another test because you might have done it wrong. Use your first two fingers and gently press the part behind the elbow. Repeat for several days to take an average reading.
Your horse’s mucous membranes like the nostrils, eyelids, and gums can reveal a lot about his blood circulation. A healthy mucous membrane is moist and pale pink. You’ll know if he’s sick if he has dry gums or nostrils, and the color varies in grey, red, or brick red.
Capillary Refill Time
Hydration is an important aspect of your horse’s overall health. One way to test how well he is hydrated is by assessing his capillary refill time, where you’ll press your thumb or finger into his gums for 2 seconds. The white mark should be in pink color after removing your finger.
Always take your horse vital signs to identify existing disease or potential illness. Take note that exercise, eating, environmental temperature, or even change in routine can influence the readings to some extent. Be sure to get the readings in all circumstances.