The old wives’ tale about apples might not hold up, but daily care can help your horse’s health. Dr. Gabriele Landolt, professor of equine medicine at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, says giving your horse a quick health check every day is a key management strategy.
“The earlier you detect a medical problem, the better,” Landolt said. “Typically, it will increase your chances of being successful in treating it.”
Here are some things you should keep an eye on each day as you take care of your horse.
- Behavior. Is he standing with his head down, when normally he’s alert and playing? Is he moving normally?
“Is there any obvious sign of discomfort or pain?” Landolt said.
- Appetite. This can be difficult to monitor if your horse is on pasture, but if you feed hay or grain, notice if your horse is interested in eating. Is he cleaning up his food as usual? Is he drinking plenty of water?
- Output. Pay attention to the amount and quality of your horse’s urination and defecation. Any changes, such as diarrhea or lack of manure, may be an indication of an issue.
“It’s a bit more difficult if your horse is on pasture, but monitoring those things when you can is definitely a good idea,” Landolt said.
- Vital signs. Keep a thermometer on hand and check his temperature if you suspect any issues, particularly if your horse has been traveling or around horses outside his pasture mates.
“It’s a good idea to have a thermometer available because if there is a concern—if the horse is not eating well or is lying down—getting vital signs is important,” Landolt said
These vital signs include checking your horse’s heart rate and gum color. Gathering this information will help your communication with your veterinarian, should you need to call for help. If you don’t know how to check your horse’s vital signs, ask your veterinarian to show you.
Looking for products to help your horse stay as healthy and happy as possible? Below is a collection of items that make taking care of your horse’s well-being easier.