Your Horse’s Pulse, Respiration and Temperature

Since many ailments are more easily treatable with early detection, being able to catch early warning signs that something is changing in your horse?s body is vitally important.? All horse owners should know their horse?s resting heart rate, respiration, and temperature.

To check your horse?s pulse, find an artery close to the skin and count the number of beats per minute.? One of the easiest to find is the maxillary artery which lies under the jawbone.? A normal resting horse will have a pulse of approximately 30 ? 40 beats per minute.? The digital artery in your horse?s fetlock is another important one to check regularly.? In a resting horse the artery can be hard to find.? However, a throbbing, racing pulse here can be an early sign of laminitis.

Measuring your horse?s rate of respiration can be a little trickier, particularly in a resting horse.? The best method is to use a stethoscope on the horse?s trachea, on his neck just under the throatlatch area.? The ratio of pulse to respiration should be anywhere from 4:1 to 2:1.? If his respiration matches or exceeds his pulse, then your horse is suffering from oxygen deprivation and stress.

Temperature is another key indicator that something is not quite right in your horse?s body.? To measure his temperature you will need a thermometer designed for horses, coated with a lubricant.? It is a good idea to secure a string to the end of the thermometer to ensure it doesn?t get lost.? Move your horse?s tail to the side and gently insert the thermometer at a slightly upward angle.? After approximately two minutes, you can remove it and read your horse?s temperature.? A normal body temperature should be 99 ? 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and abnormally high or low temperatures are indicators that something may be wrong.


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