By Ron Petracek
There are many signs that will tell you whether your horse is healthy and doing well or if he is a little “off” and not feeling so great. As a horse owner, or potential horse owner, it is important that you be able to recognize these signs. This is especially important if you are considering buying a horse, you will want to know that the horse is healthy before you buy him.
The healthy horse will stand squarely on all four feet. A healthy horse will never rest a forefoot unless the foot or leg is unsound. They will rest their hind feet when they are relaxed or bored. The healthy horse will also have a shiny coat that is soft and lies down flat and smooth. The horse’s eyes are wide open and the inside of the eye is salmon colored. This color will also be seen in the horse’s gum and nostrils. The limbs and joints of the horse should be free of heat or swelling. You can check for heat by rubbing your hands down both legs and comparing them to each other.
The healthy horse will also have a normal appetite and will be willing to eat. His skin will be moist, but not sweaty. His breathing will be quiet and even when he is at rest. His pulse should also be steady and even. You can feel the pulse by placing the tips of your fingers over the large artery under the lower jaw and immediately in front of the heavy muscle of the cheek. In mares and geldings, the pulse is usually around thirty-three to forty beats per minute. In stallions, it is usually around twenty-eight to thirty-two beats per minute. Younger horses will have faster pulses.
The healthy horse will also have four to eight bowel movements in a twenty-four hour period. You will also be able to hear gut sounds if you place your ear to the flank of the horse. The bowel movements should be odor free and not have any mucus or worms present. The urine of the horse will be light yellow and he will eliminate five or more times per day.
The sick horse will have an abnormal attitude. He may lie down at odd times and in odd positions. If a horse has advanced laminitis, he may even sit like a dog because it hurts to put pressure on his feet. A horse suffering from colic may lie on his back. The sick horse may also have a dull coat and the hairs will not lie down.
The mucous membranes may be off color. There are several colors that suggest different conditions. Pale membranes usually mean that the horse is anemic, a yellow tinge suggests liver problems, a dark red may suggest a fever and a blue-red may suggest a heart or circulation problem.
The horse will also have an abnormal appetite and may not care about feed that you give him. The skin may feel tight and dry or he may be sweating profusely. His temperature will also be high. In horses, a low fever is around 102.5 degrees, a definite fever will be at 104 and 106 is high and suggests that the hose may have an infection. The horse may also have a high pulse and breath either too slow or rapidly. A sick horse may also have a noisy and labored way of breathing.
The horse may have droppings of an abnormal consistency or color. If the horse has serious constipation, the horse may not have any gut sounds. The urine of the horse may also be an unusual color or consistency. They may also have pain while urinating and the amount may be excessive or very little.
There may also be heat in the legs of the horse. Some infections may cause the horse’s legs to swell and may not always be a sign of lameness.
These are very important signs to watch for. If you board a horse and notice that a horse doesn’t look like his usual self, you are better safe than sorry to let someone know. Alert barn managers and owners about the horse and his condition. If the horse is your own, alert your veterinarian if the condition seems serious. If the horse seems a little off, you might ask your barn manager or barn friends to keep a watchful eye on him and alert you if the condition becomes worse. Many times a horse will pick up a bug and will be “off” for a day or so. If the horse does not get better, you will want to seek medical attention.
Ron Petracek – Raised in southern Idaho, Ron loves horses and the outdoors. If you would like to join in and learn from the vast resources at our equine forum please visit http://www.horsechitchat.com Looking to buy sell or trade something equine realted? Just visit our huge network and get 12 sites for Free! Click here => http://www.Click4equine.com
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