AS a horse owner, you should be able to recognise the basic signs of good health. Knowing what is healthy and normal for your horse will alert you to any health issues which may arise from time to time.
Below is a list of nine daily checks you should carry out as part of your horse management routine:
1: Pay attention to your horse's demeanour. Are they behaving normally? Horses should be bright and alert.
2: Take a glance at your horse's eyes and nostrils, they should be clear and there should be no discharge.
3: Check that the horse is breathing regularly. On average (at rest) a horse should take 8-12 breaths per minute.
4: The horse's appeite is a tell-tale sign of good health. Check that your horse has eaten his feed and hay from the evening before. If you supply water to your horse in buckets then check that the horse has been drinking. (Click here for more on signs of dehydration.) If your horse leaves balls of chewed up forage/feed in the stable (quidding) contact your equine dentist, as your horse may require treatment. (Click here for more information on quidding.)
5: The horse's skin and coat condition are excellent indicators of health. The coat should lie flat and have sheen to it. The skin should be loose and supple to touch. It should move easily over the underlying bones. At rest there should be no sign of sweating except in very hot weather. Remember the coat is a mirror of the health of the body!
6: The horse's limbs should be checked daily for heat, lumps, bruises or swellings.
7: The horse should be standing evenly on all four feet. However, resting a hind leg, (not a fore leg) is quite normal.
8: It is important to note that his bed is not too overly disturbed. A trashed up stable-bed could be signs of different illnesses, vices or stress in the horse.
9: Check the horse's droppings. There should be, on average, about 10 droppings passed every 24 hours. Are the droppings normal and of the consistency and colour you would expect. Normal droppings are firm, round, separate lumps which should break apart as they hit the ground. If a horse has just come in from a summer at grass their droppings may be looser for a time.
Knowing a horse's normal temperature, pulse and respiration rates (TPR) are an important factor of good horse health management.
Temperature: 37.5 - 38.5 degrees celsius
Pulse (at rest): 36-48 beats per minute
Respiration (at rest): 8-12 beats per minute
These are the basic day-to-day checks that should become part of an everyday routine for you and your horse. Your own preception and assessment of your horse's health and condition are vital to his welfare. If a horse ever appears to show any abnormal signs it is important to call someone experienced and always have your vets number on speed dial.