HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER
newsletter is a personal letter from me to you,
a fellow horse owner and
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting
stories and helpful tips for your
horse care, training, and riding.
© 2003 Cherry Hill
signs measure a horse's body functions and are a good indication of his overall
state of health. Learn how to take your horse's temperature, pulse, respiration,
capillary refill time, perform the pinch test and become adept with a stethoscope
for listening to his heart, lungs, and intestines. Know what is normal for most
adult horses. But every horse is different, so know what is normal for each of
your horses so you will know when there is a problem. To establish normals, take
the vital signs twice a day for three days
and average the readings. Choose various times of day but always when the horse
is at rest, not when he has just been working or is excited. Write them in your
horse's record. Then, when your horse becomes ill, you can take his vital signs
and compare them to his normals. This is valuable information to have on hand
when you call your veterinarian.
on a Vital Sign below to change pages
You can get
additional information on your horse's overall health and the function of his
circulatory system by inspecting the mucous membranes around his eyes and gums
for a bright pink color and appropriate moisture. If the mucous membranes are
very pale or white, the horse is suffering from a blood loss or circulatory impairment.
If the gums are bright red, it indicates a toxic (poison) condition. If the gums
look a grayish blue color, the horse is probably in shock.
With your horse haltered and an assistant holding him,
roll back the horse's upper lip with your left hand. With your right hand on the
lower jaw, exert thumb pressure on the gum above the upper incisors for about
two seconds. This will blanch (squeeze the blood temporarily out of the capillaries)
a spot on the gum. When you remove your thumb, a circular white spot will remain.
Within one second, the spot should return to its original color. This is the capillary
refill time. If it takes five to ten seconds for the color to return, your horse
is showing signs of circulatory impairment. Extended capillary refill time is
often seen in horses with severe colic or those that are in shock.