All horse owners should be aware of how to take their horse's temperature, pulse and respiration and they should also be familiar with the normal values. The average horse temperature is 99.5 to 100.5 degrees F. The average pulse rate is 42 beats per minute and the average respiration is 8 to 12 breaths per minute. Every horse will have their own normal values though so you should take your horse's vitals periodically to become familiar with their norms.
Get a digital thermometer and use it rectally to take your horse's temperature. Use a lubricant such as vasoline to coat the tip before inserting it in your horse's rectum. It is recommended that you hold it while the temperature is being read. When it beeps, you can remove it and read the temperature. Take your horse's temperature several times at different parts of the day to determine what their normal temperature is.
Taking the Heart Rate
This can be done through feeling an artery or using a stethoscope to listen to his heart. There are several places to feel for a pulse including the inside of the jaw, the inside of the front leg above the knee and the outside of the hind leg. Count the pulse for 15 seconds and then multiple by 4. When using a stethoscope place it underneath the horse's elbow on the left side. Listen of the lub-DUB....each lub-DUB is one beat.
Taking the Respiration
To count the breaths your horse is taking, you can either watch their nostrils flare or watch their flank rising and falling with each breath. One breath is a complete cycle in and out (inhalation and exhalation). Because the horse's normal respiratory rate is so low, count for 30 seconds and times by 2 to get a more accurate reading.
Capillary Refill Time
This is a way to check the horse's hydration. To do this, lift their lip up and press on their gums. Their gums will normally be pink in color. When you press on it, it should turn white, but the pink color should return within 1-2 seconds.
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Dr. Angelique Barbara is the founder of Angel's Animals LLC, a company that has developed online animal bodywork courses for both owners and professionals. Dr. Barbara's unique teaching style along with the dynamic layout of the courses allows people of different educational backgrounds from all over the world to benefit from her knowledge.