A sound understanding of your horses vital signs can be used to determine the current state of health and fitness. Awareness of your horse’s vital signs will enable you to differentiate between what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ for your horse. The vital signs outlined in this article will enable you to perform a physical examination that can be used to assess any changes in your horse’s demeanour, body temperature, hydration, respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Vital signs and common measures of equine health include:
- Resting heart rate (RHR) 30-50 beats per minute (BPM).
- Respiration rate (RR) 8-14 breaths per minute.
- Body temperature (BT) 37.4-38.4ºC.
- Gut sounds.
- Hydration level (skin turgor test should retract in 1 second).
- Capillary Refill Time (CRT) should be 1-2 seconds.
- Mucous membranes (MM) should be a healthy pink colour.
How to measure the vital signs:
If your horse is exhibiting abnormal vital signs, be sure to contact you veterinarian immediately.