Horse Health

Horse Health


Horse health is one of the most important things to know if you are going to be around horses. How to
tell a sick or unhealthy horse from a healthy one is something you will definitely need to know. On this
page you will find the basics.

A Healthy Horse
A horse displaying full horse health should have:
a) Pricked ears
b) Bright eyes without any dry, crusty build-up around them.
c) A dry nose
d) A shiny coat
e) A keen appetite
f) An interest in all going on around him
g) A resistant attitude if someone tries to remove it from other horses.
h) A relaxed, gentle breathing style

i) A warm body and cool legs while at rest.

j) Droppings that are formed and split slightly on hitting the ground.

An Unhealthy Horse
A horse that is unwell should have:
a) Drooping ears

b) Dull eyes with dry, crusty build-up around them.
c) A runny nose
d) A ragged, dull coat
e) No interest in food
f) No interest in anything going on around him.
g) Displays no resistance when being removed from its herd.
h) A ragged, panting or a shallow, near-nothing breathing style.
i) A hot, feverish body and heated-up legs while at rest.
j) Runny droppings that look like cowpats rather than horse manure.

Horse Health Check-Up
Here is a horse health check-up for you so that you can understand what the vet is doing when he or
she comes to take a look at your horse.

1. First, the vet may ask you to walk and trot your horse on a lead rein in the stable yard. This is to
check for lameness in the horse’s hooves or legs. If your horse is lame of one of his forelegs, he may
nod his head as his sound foreleg – the one that is alright – hits the ground. If your horse is lame on
his hind legs, he may drag the toe of the unsound hoof. If the vet (or you) think you have identified a
lame leg, run your hand down it. If the leg is cool and free of swelling, your horse is probably fine. But
if your horse’s leg is hot and even slightly swelled up, he is lame.

2. The next thing the vet may do is worm your horse. Horses need to be dewormed ever four to eight weeks. The
wormer can come in two forms: A powder that you sprinkle into your horse’s food, or a paste which can the
squirted onto your horse’s tongue with an applicator. Unlike kids, horses don’t seem to mind the taste of the
dewormer. If you are not sure what to do, let your vet or an experienced adult deworm your horse.

3. Now, if your horse is relaxed, you can check his pulse and breathing rate. Take your fingers – fingers
not your thumb – and feel for your horse’s pulse just underneath his jawbone. Then count the number of beats
there are in one minute. It should be around 35 to 45 beats when your horse is resting. The amount of times your
horse breaths each minute should be around 10 to 20 breaths if he is resting.

4. Another thing you may want to do is check your horse’s temperature. You may want to let your vet do this because
it is pretty delicate. What the vet will do is insert a special horse thermometer into your horse’s anus. She or he
will hold it there for two minutes before withdrawing it. A horse’s normal temperature is between 37.5 degrees
Celsius and 38.5 degrees Celsius.

5. Once a year, you will have to call in the equine dentist to deal with your horse’s teeth. Horse’s back teeth
often wear down rather unevenly and this is very uncomfortable. The equine dentist will rasp any sharp edges to
smooth them down.

That is the basics of horse health. If you want to know more, go to my Horse First Aid page, my Horse Illnesses
page or my Caring for a Sick Horse page.

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