Monitoring your horse’s heart rate

By Wendy Talbot on 07 March 2018

What should your horse’s heart rate be? Your horse’s resting pulse should be 28-44 beats per minute. 

As with humans some horses may naturally have a slightly lower or slightly higher pulse rate than the average, which is totally normal for them. Excitement and stress will quickly raise the heart rate, but if there is no other problem it will quickly drop once the cause of excitement is gone.  The best place to check your horse’s pulse is at the mandibular artery under the jaw bone.

How to test your horse’s heart rate 

Place your first two fingers on the inside of the lowest point of the jaw bone below the cheek muscles.  Curl your fingers towards you and press gently until you feel a cord-like structure. Using your watch or phone, count the beats for 30 seconds and then double the total to give beats per minute.

Watch our video on how to monitor your horse’s heart rate (courtesy of brookfarmstables): 

The principal vital signs for horses are temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and mucus membrane colour. Knowing the normal range of your horse’s vital signs and how to take them will help you to monitor his health and can give you an important early warning that something could be wrong. Being familiar with your horse’s normal weight is also important because changes may indicate ill health. Always call your vet immediately if any vital signs are not as expected.

Related blog post 

How to take your horse’s temperature

References:

BHS

World Horse Welfare

Wormers Direct

thehorse.com

Extension

Equimed.com

BlueCross

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DR WENDY TALBOT BVSC CERT EM (INT MED) DECEIM MRCVS


Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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