How To Perform Routine Health Checks On Your Horse

Guest post by Ryan White. 

Keeping a horse happy and healthy is a task that any horse owner is proud to complete. Whether you own a retired pony or a western pleasure horse, there are several routine health checks that you should conduct on a daily, monthly and twice-yearly basis. However, before calling your veterinarian or dentist to conduct a health exam, read on to discover the simple checks that you can complete to ensure your horse is healthy throughout the year.

1. Coat and teeth: A horse’s coat should be shiny and smooth to the touch. If your horse’s coat is dull or dry, then you might need to change its diet or grooming habits. Remember that daily grooming can help produce a healthy coat. A horse’s teeth are gradually worn down as it ages. With this in mind, it is important that a dentist examines your horse on an annual (or every six month) basis. During this exam, the dentist will check the condition of your horse’s teeth and might file any sharp edges. In between exams, monitor your horse’s eating habits, including how well it is consuming its grain, hay and grass. If your horse stops eating well or shows sensitivity toward the bit, then its teeth might be getting sharp.

2. Eyes, ears and nose: It is especially important to check the eyes, ears and nose of horses that are turned out in a paddock 24/7. Make sure that the ears are clean, the eyes are not tearing excessively, and that the nostrils are free of cloudy or bloody mucus. Generally, a small amount of clear mucus within the horse’s nostrils is fine; however, you want to keep an eye out for any blood during particularly hot or cold weather conditions.

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3. Legs: No matter whether you own a young horse or a retired champion, you should check your horse’s legs on a daily basis. Run your hand down each leg from the back of the knee/hock all the way down to the hoof wall. Check for unusual swelling, bumps, cuts or heat.

4. Bodily movements: Monitor your horse’s bodily movements on a daily basis. Make a mental note each time you enter your horse’s stall to check for signs of manure or urine. A healthy horse will go to the bathroom multiple times during the day. In fact, if your horse hasn’t passed any manure during a 12-hour period, there is a high likelihood that it could be experiencing the beginnings of colic. A wild horse naturally walks 5 miles a day, so it is good to let your horse out so the blood can circulate to promote good health.

5. Appetite and water intake: Like people, changes in a horse’s appetite and water intake levels are one of the first signs that trouble might be brewing. On a daily basis, check to ensure your horse is eating all of its grain and hay rations. On particularly cold or hot days, make sure to closely monitor the amount of water it is drinking.

If anything appears to be out of the ordinary, reach out to your veterinarian to schedule a checkup for your equine partner.

Monitor Your Horse To Better Understand When Something Is Amiss

Knowing the normal values for your horse can be very helpful in identifying early signs of stress, discomfort or disease. At rest, the normal heart rate should be between 28-48 beats per minute. During exercise, a horse’s heart rate can reach up to 200 beats per minute. A normal resting respiratory rate is 10-14 breaths per minute. Finally, a horse’s normal body temperature is 99.5-101.3 degrees Fahrenheit. If you notice any of your horse’s normal values are too high or too low, then it is important to seek immediate advice from your veterinarian. Ultimately, by incorporating the suggestions above, you can help keep your horse happy and healthy.

Raised on a working cattle ranch in Hawaii, Ryan White has over 30-plus years of experience in the rodeo industry. His need for innovation and creativity has undoubtedly been the driving force behind the immense success The Best Ever Pads has accomplished since its creation in 2002.

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