September 4, 2008
Learn how to check your horse’s vital signs and make sure he’s healthy.
A normal temperature for a horse is between 99.5 and 101.5 F.
Here’s how to check your horse’s temperature:
- Lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
- Attach a string to the end of your thermometer if it should fall into your horse’s bedding.
- Tie a clothespin to the other end of the string so you can attach it to your horse’s tail while you’re taking his temperature.
- Approach the horse from the side, and do not stand directly behind him.
- Raise your horse’s tail and insert the thermometer into his rectum.
- Wait at least 1 minute, then read the thermometer.
Learn more practical ways to keep your horse healthy and happy. Become an AQHA or AQHYA member and receive America’s Horse magazine 10 times a year. It’s packed with great horse health information.
Find the Pulse
A normal horse’s heartbeat is between 32 and 36 beats per minute.
- Use your fingers or a stethoscope to find your horse’s pulse under his chin or on the left side of his barrel, just behind his left elbow.
- Each “lub-dub” is considered one beat.
- Record the rate for 15 seconds and multiply by four to get your horse’s heart rate.
A normal horse exhibits 8-12 breaths per minute.
- Watch your horse’s chest move in and out, or cup your hand over his nostril and feel the air come out.
- Use your stethoscope to listen to the breaths as the air travels across the trachea when he inhales and exhales. it should sound clear and consistent.
- Note the characteristics of your horse’s breathing. Are the breaths shallow or deep? Are there any abnormal sounds like squeaking or roaring?
Did You Know?
A horse’s daily water requirement varies from 5 to 20 gallons, depending on environmental temperature, workload, production state and feed intake. Providing clean, fresh water is a top priority for horse owners.
Learn more about horses’ health, including nutritional requirements, in America’s Horse magazine. America’s Horse is the official member publication of AQHA.
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