As a horse owner, your horse’s health should be your top priority. If subtle signs of early illness go unnoticed, your horse’s illness can quickly worsen and even result in death. So, it is important appropriate medical checks are taken, the right treatment is applied, and your horse’s health is maintained all year round.
At Prime Stables, we recommend all horse owners check the health of their horses as a matter of routine so that any problems can be noticed straight away and taken care of quickly. Early detection is one of the best ways to ensure your horse stays healthy. If you detect any changes in your horse that are considered abnormal for your horse, this should be a cause of concern and dealt with properly. When carrying out health checks on your horse, it is important to check the following:
Check Horse Vital Signs
Checking your horse’s vital signs is important for determining the overall health of your horse. When checking vital signs, you need to measure your horse’s heat rate, temperature, respiration rate, gum colour, gut sounds, and digital pulse. The results of the above points should help ensure your horse is healthy.
The best time to check your horse’s vital signs is definitely when your horse is resting as any notable changes will be more easily realised this way.
The Health of Horse Teeth
As people, we know how frustrating toothache can be. Well, your horse’s teeth are subject to dental issues in just the same way ours are. However, you may not be aware your horse is even experiencing problems with his teeth if you don’t have a look.
We recommend you examine your horse’s teeth every year if they are young. However, for ageing horses it is important to check teeth health every 3-6 months. Regular dental checks and proper care helps promote healthy chewing and effective digestion. If your horse is experiencing problems with his teeth, such as sharp edges, it can make eating very difficult. Below are just some of the common signs your horse is suffering with dental problems:
- Lack of appetite or reluctance to eat
- Foul smelling breath
- Chewing more slowly than normal
- Aggression and reluctance to being bridled
- Head shaking
- Reluctance to move forward
- Rearing or bolting
If you notice your horse exhibiting any of these signs, you need to call in a veterinary dentist to assess the problem and suggest an effective solution.
Click here to find out how to care for your horse’s teeth properly!
Healthy Horse Ears, Eyes, and Nose
A healthy horse is naturally alert and receptive to the environment around him. If your horse is healthy, he should have ears that are flicking backwards and forwards or held softly forward or to the side. Your horse’s eyes should be clear and bright with only a pale pink skin colour and the nose should be clean and breathing clear.
Your horse’s extremities are good indicators as to overall health. If you have any concerns about your horse’s ears, eyes, or nose, you should get your horse checked over by a qualified vet.
A Healthy Skin and Coat
The state of your horse’s skin and coat can also be a great signifier as to the health of your horse. A healthy horse should have soft and supple skin with a natural elasticity. So, if your horse is healthy his coat should be smooth and shiny. If this isn’t the case, your horse could be exhibiting signs of an underlying health problem.
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy skin and coat for your horse is to ensure regular grooming is maintained and a proper diet. Rather than an underlying health condition, it could just be that your horse is suffering from a poor diet and lack of grooming.
Unusual Bodily Functions
Horses spend most of their day eating and drinking. So, it is normal for horses to expel food a couple of times every few hours. If your horse is experiencing difficulty carrying out normal bodily functions, this could indicate possible digestive and health issues. If you notice any changes in bodily functions, call your vet and have your horse checked by a licensed professional.
Your Horse’s Physical Condition
A healthy horse should not be over or underweight, but well-covered in flesh. A horse that is in good physical condition should have good muscle development, tone definition, and an impressive level of fitness. To ensure your horse stays in prime physical condition, you need to monitor his exercise type and amount regularly. Any sudden changes in body condition can indicate underlying medical disorders. So, it’s important to closely monitor your horse’s physical activity and condition on a daily basis.
Horse Hooves and Limbs
Many health problems for horses originate in their feet, causing lameness and other problems if not detected and treated early. Even minor foot ailments can cause serious infection or lameness to develop. So, daily foot cleaning and assessment is essential to ensure early detection of any problems. Early detection helps prevent any foot pains developing into serious problems.
Ideally, a healthy horse should be able to walk, stand, and canter comfortably. A healthy horse should also be able to distribute his weight evenly on all four feet. If your horse is unable to do this, there could be an underlying issue. If you clean your horse’s hooves thoroughly on a daily basis, you should be able to detect any injuries or problems early, helping prevent any serious foot problems from developing.
Back Health in Your Horse
Horses have very strong backs, but they can easily become subject to a range of health problems. The most common back ailment horses experience is muscle tension or soreness. You should check your horse’s back regularly for any stiffness, pain, or hollowing. Signs of tension or bruising could be indicators of more serious issues. So, it is important you check your horse’s back regularly for the following ‘bad back’ signs:
- Uneven muscle development
- Bucking or bolting
- Hollowing of the back
- Resisting when ridden
- Dipping when mounted
- Stiffness on one side
- Unusual reactions to touch or pressure
If your horse is exhibiting any of the above signs, it’s likely he is struggling with a sore or injured back. Damage to a horse’s back can be very serious, so it’s important you get it checked out as soon as possible.
Book Regular Vet Checks to Maintain Horse Health
When it comes to maintaining your horse’s health, the best thing you can do is book regular vet checks. As has been mentioned throughout this article, you should also check your horse regularly for any problems. Regular health checks is one of the best ways you can keep your horse healthy. If you check your horse every day, you’ll get to know what’s normal for him and what’s not. As we always like to say at Prime Stables ltd, prevention is always better than cure.