Horse Facts & Trivia #4 from Jim Cosenza.
A how to... horses Vital Signs:
Taking a temperature on a horse
The most accurate method of checking a horse's temperature is rectally. You should keep a plastic, digital thermometer in your horse's medical kit.These thermometers are safe, simple to use, inexpensive, and readily available from a number of retailers. Most are operated by the touch of a button. Make sure the thermometer is lubricated, using KY Jelly or petroleum jelly, before inserting it in the horse's rectum. Most digital thermometers beep when they are done reading, although you may need to time others. It usually takes between one to three minutes for a reading. The horse's temperature will be shown on the digital display. One caution--make sure that you do not lose the thermometer inside the horse. The rectum will naturally attempt to draw the thermometer inside. You can prevent this by making sure to keep hold of the thermometer firmly at all times, or you can tie a string to the end of the thermometer and clip it to the horse's tail. Normally, a horse's temperature will be between 99.8 F and 101.3 F. Keep in mind that the weather can affect temperature. In warm weather or during exercise, stress, or excitement, a horse's temperature will naturally rise. These natural variations are one good reason to take your horse's temperature at different times and in different situations, at times when your horse's health seems fine. This will give you an idea of your horse's normal temperature so you can more easily spot an abnormal reading. Generally speaking, temperatures over 102 degrees indicate some kind of disease. Infections caused by bacteria, such as infected injuries or respiratory conditions, usually result in temperatures in the range of 102.5 to 103.5.If the infection is caused by a virus, early temperature readings may be slightly below normal. This is similar to the 'chills' people feel in the early stages of a viral cold. Later, temperatures can be very high, from 104.5 to 105.5 or higher. Some infections will cause a biphasic fever. This means that the horse may have a normal temperature in the morning, but later in the day it will spike a high fever. If you are concerned that your horse might be ill, it is therefore important to check and record the horse's temperature twice daily to spot patterns.
Checking the pulse on a horse:
There are several spots on a horse where the pulse can be felt. These are beneath the jaw, under the tail at the tailbone, or at the side of the horse's foot. If you have trouble finding the pulse, ask your veterinarian to show you these spots at your next appointment. Also, if you place your hand on the left side of the chest, just under the elbow, you will be able to feel the heart's beat. Most horses won't stand still long enough for you to count the pulse for a full minute. To simplify things, you can count for fifteen seconds and then multiply the result by four. Why check the pulse? This measures the rate and strength of your horse's heartbeat. Normally, a resting horse has a pulse of 38 to 40 beats per minute. When exercising, a horse's maximum heart rate can exceed 180 beats per minute. However, in resting horses, a heart rate over 80 can be a sign of a serious problem. If a calm horse has a pulse that is consistently over 60, it can also be a problem. Things that can increase the horse's heart rate include exercise, fear, pain, stress, and excitement. Also, infections and injuries can raise the horse's heart rate. Most commonly, an elevated heart rate in horses is caused by colic or intestinal pain. These elevations can be mild to severe, and the amount of increase can be a sign of the severity of the horse's pain. Also, the strength of the pulse can sometimes indicate other problems. If the pulse is weak or soft, it can be an indication that the heart isn't pumping forcefully enough. This can be a sign of heart disease. When a horse is exercising, it will often have a hard or forceful pulse. This is a natural reaction and allows the heart to pump more blood and transport more oxygen to the muscles. However, a hard pulse can also be a reaction to some drugs or toxins, or can indicate certain diseases. As with temperature, knowing your horse's usual resting heart rate and pulse strength can help you to distinguish whether or not there is a problem. Also, owners who are interested in improving their horse's physical conditioning may wish to make note of the horse's rate of return, after exercise, to its normal resting pulse. This measurement is the single best indicator of the horse's fitness. Being able to check your horse's pulse is an excellent way to monitor the effectiveness of your horse's training and fitness regime.
Checking the respirations on a horse:
When checking your horse's respiration rate, it's important to note that your horse's inhalations should take roughly the same amount of time as its exhalations. The horse's respirations can be counted in three ways--watching the horse's nostrils move as it breathes, watching the horse's torso for the movement of the ribcage and belly, or by listening at its trachea or windpipe. This is called auscultation. You have probably watched your veterinarian auscultate various areas of your horse using a stethoscope. You can do the same thing by simply placing your ear against your horse's neck to listen for the sound of the air moving through the trachea or lungs. However, caution should be used when doing this. If your horse is well and calm, this is relatively safe. If your horse is ill, injured, or stressed, it may be less tolerant of your nearness. Again, you can listen for fifteen seconds and multiply the number of respirations by four to achieve the number of breaths per minute. Normally, a horse will breathe between 8 and 10 times per minute. If your horse shows a high respiratory rate, it can indicate several things. Pain, excitement, stress, fever (which you can now check for), or infection can all cause an increase in the respiratory rate. If the horse has an upper respiratory infection (a 'head cold'), the thick mucous in the trachea and sinuses can increase respiration and make it more difficult for your horse to breathe. Just like a human with a stuffy nose, allergies and heaves can make it more difficult for the horse to breathe. This can easily be heard, even without a stethoscope. By learning how to measure your horse's temperature, pulse, and respirations, becoming familiar with its resting, healthy measurements, and knowing its usual gum color and gut sounds, you will be more familiar with its basic health condition. More importantly, you'll be much more likely to be able to spot a problem and can notify your veterinarian early, potentially avoiding more serious and costly issues from developing. When you can tell your veterinarian these vital signs over the phone during a consultation or emergency, the veterinarian will have a more complete picture of what is happening with your horse. This means you will receive more accurate and helpful treatment for your horse.
And now from Altieri F. some helpful advice:
Things that horses have taught me:
1 - Slow down
2 - Don't react so fast, think and breath.
3 - Touch with your heart
4 - If you need to go all day, plan on a break or you'll wear yourself out.
5 - Sometime you can's be the lead horse.
6 - Play hard, eat when you can, and love hard.
7 - Sometime the chinch is tight for both of our sakes.
8 - Trust your horse, he can see and smell and have a sixth sence about things I've lost the ability to notice.
9 - There is a boggie man, even if you cant see him.
10 - The trail is long, slow down and enjoy it
Here is a great video with Altieri and his trusted and amazing friend Traveler delivering medicine in a crisis. Totally Awesome!
And from Sandy Fobb:
I am a 53 y.o. retired firefighter , live in The Redland ( deep south Florida) , my main ride right now is a Florida Cracker horse .(Google them , awesome horses !) I mainly follow Parelli methods in playing with my horses , it is for me the most effective communication and best way for me & my horses to understand each other . I think horses have way more to teach us than we have to teach them . If you can learn what it takes to be really good with your horse , chances are that along the way you have learned what it takes to be good at life .
When training a horse, you get to pick the lesson but the horse must determine the time frame in which he will learn it . If you rush it , there will be gaps in his understanding , and inconsistency in his performance . Worse, you will likely damage his trust in you and his confidence in himself . When you go at the horse's pace, you build your relationship and his ability to learn the next lesson !
Sandy we AGREE!!
THANKS EVERYONE FOR THESE SUBMISSIONS...WE ARE ALL MADE WISER FOR THEM!