5 Vital Signs about your horse

5 Vital signs about your horse

Knowing your horse’s vitals will result in more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Horses are herd animals and, as such, prefer to establish a dominance hierarchy, which can lead to conflict. This, combined with their strong fight-or-flight instincts and their natural curiosity make them likely candidates for medical emergencies.

Most commonly, your veterinarian will attend horses for cuts and abrasions, or instances of colic. It’s crucial you learn to recognise what’s normal and what isn’t in your horse, so you can respond promptly in an emergency.

It’s recommended that you record your horse’s normal values and have them on hand to refer to during times of emergency.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR HORSE’S NORMAL VITAL SIGNS?

As a horse owner, you should become familiar with your horse’s normal behaviour and vital signs, so you can easily recognise when your horse is unwell. It’s recommended that you record your horse’s normal values and have them on hand to refer to during times of emergency.

5 Vital signs about your horse

1

Pulse

The normal resting pulse rate should be between 32-40 beats per minute.

2

Respiratory rate

The normal respiratory rate should be between 8-20 breaths per minute.

3

Rectal temperature

A temperature between 37.5-38.5
degrees is considered normal.

4

Gum colour

Your horse’s gums should be light pink in colour.

5

Capillary refill time

It should take approximately two
seconds for capillaries to refill after a
light-moderate pressure.

On average, a horse should pass
faeces 6-12 times a day and urinate at
least once daily, more often 2-3 times.
Deviations may signify a problem.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR HORSE’S
URINE AND MANURE OUTPUT?

While this may not be your favourite subject, we encourage you to become familiar with the normal colour, consistency, volume and frequency of manure and urine that your horse passes on a daily basis. On average, a horse should pass faeces 6-12 times a day and urinate at least once daily, more often 2-3 times. Deviations from the norm may signify a problem.

Lethargy, depression, pain or anxiety
are signs of potential illness. It’s also
important to note any behavioural
changes, such as inappetence.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR HORSE’S
NORMAL BEHAVIOUR?

You should watch your horse’s overall demeanour on a daily basis. Lethargy, depression, pain or anxiety are signs of potential illness. It’s also important to note any behavioural changes, such as inappetence, fence walking, weaving or crib biting, which can also indicate a problem.


It’s said that prior preparation
prevents poor performance; the same
is true when preparing for a future
emergency.

YOUR EMERGENCY PLAN

It’s said that prior preparation prevents poor performance; the same is true when preparing for a future emergency. So, what should you have in place in case of medical emergencies? 

1

Contact information

You should have your veterinarian’s contact number on hand, including how they can be reached afterhours.

2

First aid kit

You should keep a well-stocked first aid kit. The essentials of a first aid kit include gauze and bandages, a digital thermometer, rubber gloves, antiseptic, a lead rope and halter, plus a pen and paper for recording information.

DR LOUISE COSGROVE

Having spent most of her childhood in the saddle, it was a natural transition
into equine veterinary medicine for Louise, founder of Exclusively Equine
Veterinary Services. A practicing Equine Vet with more than 15 years
experience, Louise is passionate about empowering horse owners, like you,
with a deeper understanding of horse health, so you can give your horse a
longer, healthier future.

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