Back to the Baseline: Four Ways to Learn Your Horse's "Normal"

Back to the Baseline: Four Ways to Learn Your Horse's "Normal"

Learn your horse's health baseline before there’s an issue. Dr. Nicole Finazzo and Dr. Gretchen Syburg of the Miller & Associates clinic share four ways you can begin to learn your horse’s normal health state. 

Nina Fedrizzi

//cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2026/1725/files/vet_module.jpg?3048433679742868597

Q:

What’s the best way to find out if your horse is in distress?

Learn your horse's health baseline before there’s an issue. Dr. Nicole Finazzo and Dr. Gretchen Syburg of the Miller & Associates clinic share four ways you can begin to learn your horse’s normal health state. 





 

1. Temperature

Rectal Temperature Exam


Taking your horse’s temperature is a quick and easy way to check the state of his/her health, but since every horse is an individual, knowing what’s normal for yours is the first step. Start by taking your horse’s temperature rectally once or twice a day and record it for the period of a week to establish a baseline.

 

• Healthy horses will run between 99 and 101 degrees, or some up to 101.5

• Temperatures over 101.5 degrees typically indicate a fever

• Temperatures two to three degrees higher than your horse’s baseline temperature can indicate a high fever (call the vet!) 

PONYAPP PRO-TIP:

“If your horse’s temperature is slightly elevated, take into account where he is and what he’s been doing,” says Dr. Nicole Finazzo. Has your horse been recently ridden or turned out? Is it a particularly hot day? Situational details can be key when assessing whether your horse has a fever or not.

 

2. Pulse

(c) Miller & Associates



Although there are a handful of places on a horse’s body that can provide an accurate pulse reading, locating one can be difficult—so practice in advance! Miller & Associates recommends finding your horse’s external maxillary, or facial artery, which runs between the two jawbones on his/her face.

 

• For the average adult horse, 28 to 42 beats per minute is considered normal

PONYAPP PRO-TIP:

Using light pressure, find your horse’s pulse (unless he/she is very hairy, this artery can often be seen with the naked eye), and place two fingers against it. Then, count the beats for one minute using the second hand of a watch or the timer on your phone, advises Dr. Gretchen Syburg.

 

3. Respiration

Taking your horse’s temperature is a quick and easy way to check the state of his/her health, but since every horse is an individual, knowing what’s normal for yours is the first step. Start by taking your horse’s temperature rectally once or twice a day and record it for the period of a week to establish a baseline.

 

• Most adult horses will have a resting respiration rate of 12-24 breaths per minute

PONYAPP PRO-TIP:

“If possible, stand outside your horse’s stall when taking his respiration rate,” suggests Dr. Syburg. If your horse becomes distracted by your presence (or begins nosing your pocket for treats!), this can affect his respiration rate and make counting breaths harder.

 

4. Mood


No, it’s not just a hashtag. No one knows your horse better than you do, and even if his temperature, pulse, and respiration (TPR) are all within normal levels, your knowledge of his everyday behavior and habits—from his appetite and where he leaves manure, to when and how often he lies down, to how he feels under saddle—can be as important as his vital signs.

PONYAPP PRO-TIP:

“Even if it seems silly, if you feel that something is just not right with your horse, talk to your veterinarian. “At the end of the day, if you feel that something is abnormal, trust your gut!” says Dr. Finazzo. “Clients often catch signs in their own horses long before the vets do.”

Presented By:

 


Did you enjoy this PonyApp Pro-Tip?

Then share it to spread #ponyknowledge!

0 Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked