One of the best ways to be sure that your horse is healthy is to get to know him. Watch your horse in the stable, when he is eating and drinking and when he is out in the paddock grazing. If you get to know your horse’s habits and traits, and also get used to looking at his body and recognising all his normal little lumps and bumps, you will be far better placed to detect it when something goes awry.
Indicators of health
Manure quality can give you a good indication of the health of a horse. Again, manure varies in its ‘normal’ slightly between horses, but generally speaking manure should be in soft, well formed balls. If manure is too dry or not well formed (loose), this is a sign of a potential intestinal problem and a vet should be called. Similarly if your horse does not pass droppings for several hours, this can be a sign of colic (another intestinal issue) and your vet should again be called.
Coat shine and quality are also good indicators of horse health. A healthy horse normally has a nice sheen to his coat. If your horse’s coat is dull or is being rubbed this can be a sign of nutritional deficiency or allergy and again an expert should be contacted.
Similarly bright eyes and clean nostrils are positive signs. If your horse has dull eyes, or his nostrils are dirty with discharge you should contact a vet for advice.
Weight is also a clear sign of health in a horse. Horses should be neither obese nor skinny, and a quick look at the body condition scoring system should tell you where your horse sits in this regard.
One of the best indicators of health, and one of the first things your vet will ask you when you call them, are your horse’s vital signs. These vital signs consist of a pulse rate, respiratory rate and temperature. The pulse in a horse should be somewhere between 36 and 42 beats per minute, or slightly higher in a younger horse. The temperature should be around 38.5, and a temperature of over 39.5 or under 37 is indicative of a problem that needs attention urgently. The respiratory (breathing) rate should be around 12 breaths per minute. If these vital signs do not match the values listed here, you should immediately call your vet for advice.