Horse Care Checklist - Basics to Your Horse's Health

Beautiful Healthy Quarter Horse There are many aspect to horse care. Observing your horse in different situations over an extended period of time is a good way to establish whether your animal is healthy or not.

The best way to avoid problems is through the proper care of your animal. The basics include feeding your horse a healthy diet, providing adequate exercise, a good environment and a lot of affections.

There are many signs to determine the health status of your pet. The horse care checklist below offers some specific indicators of health you should become familiar with so you can determine when the horse is healthy and when you should consult a veterinarian.

Grooming: A healthy horse will have a glossy and shiny coat that is reflective of adequate nutrition and that can be improved by regular grooming.

Eyes: The horse’s eyes should appear bright and clear and fully open. There should be no discharge or a dull, glazed appearance.

Hooves: Every normal, healthy horse has healthy wall tissues in the hooves. The hooves should be smooth and clean with no cracks. When viewing the hoof from the side, there should be a straight line with the front of the pastern.

Teeth: Unlike human teeth, there is no end to periodontal growth for horses. As such, uneven use of their teeth can lead to the development of sharply pointed teeth which may cause chewing troubles. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you have your veterinarian check your horses’ teeth annually.


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Attitude: A healthy horse will appear bright and active. He should be alert, attentive and inquisitive. The horse should not have a dull, sluggish look that can indicate an illness, overuse or over-training. Horses will normally try to stay in a group when they are in a lot, paddock or a pasture. Afflicted horses will keep to themselves and stand away from the group. Healthy horses will show an enthusiasm for eating and will chew evenly with both sides of their mouth.

Hydration: A water balance is extremely important to a horse’s health. You can test hydration by doing a simple skin fold test, by pinching a fold of skin and pulling it out. Observe how many seconds it takes the skin to fall back into place. A hydrated horse would have its skin falls nicely back into place, whereas a dehydrated horse’s skin would stay up longer and slowly fall back into place.

Urine: Healthy urine should be a straw-wheat color. Cloudy or dark red urine indicates a problem.

Manure: Horse stools should appear as firm clumps. Stool that is watery, loose or containing undigested grains indicates a problem.

Mucous membrane: The mucous membranes of a horse’s lips and gums should be pink in color. You can assess a horse’s circulation by gently pressing a finger against the gums and watching to see how long it takes for the color to come back into the gums once the finger is removed. It should only take one or two seconds. Any dark red, deep purple, yellow or pale white colors should be cause for concern.

Heart rate: The normal heart rate of a healthy mid-sized adult horse in a resting position is 40 to 45 beats per minute (bpm) and 25 to 30 bpm for a heavier adult horse. These heart rates can vary slightly all depending on the horse’s age, temperature, humidity and even the excitement and exercise levels.

Respiratory rate: The normal respiratory rate for a healthy adult horse in a resting position is 8 to 16 breaths per minute. This rate can be greatly increased by exercise, temperature, humidity, pain, distress, anxiety and even fever.

Body temperature: The normal body temperature of a healthy horse is 98 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature can become increased by a few degrees by the horse being in a hot and humid environment or by exercise, dehydration or fever.

As you can see, horse care involves a constant awareness of the state of your animal. By following this horse care checklist you should be able to detect and treat any health problems more quickly thereby keeping your horse in maximum well-being. For a more complete treatment with detailed images, we recommend Hands-on Horse Care.

Horse Care Resources

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