Horses are susceptible to many of the same afflictions as humans. Horse injuries and illnesses may frequently be treated at home. The owner has a personal relationship with the horse and knows its habits best. Many injuries and illnesses may be diagnosed by assessing the horse’s condition and looking for unusual behavior.
1. Horses are social creatures. Is the horse sticking to itself? Does the horse normally greet people at the gate but is now staying out in the pasture? This is a signal of a potential problem. The problem could be colic.
2. Does the horse walk with a limp or bob its head as he walks or trots? This indicates lameness.
3. Examine the feces and urine while mucking its stall. Is it bloody or foul smelling? This could indicate a urinary tract infection. Diarrhea may be the source of many problems and warrants contacting a vet immediately.
4. Check the horse’s legs by running a hand over each leg. Are there lumps, tender areas or hot spots? Is the horse particularly sensitive at the joints? Even a very gentle horse may kick when in pain. Are his hocks swollen?
5. Pick up the hooves. Remove any debris. Check for cracks, foreign objects, loose shoes and abscesses.
6. If unable to locate the problem or if there is any question, contact the veterinarian. The horse may need X-rays, flexion testing, and nerve blocks to diagnose the problem.
7. Check the horse’s vital signs. Take the horses temperature rectally. A horse’s normal temp is between 99-101 degrees F. You may monitor his pulse by placing your hand under his jaw and counting for 60 seconds. A pulse rate higher than 40 at rest is abnormal. The resting respiration should be 8-16 breaths per minute. An increase in pulse or respiration usually indicates pain. A deviation in vital signs indicates a problem and should be reported to the vet.
8. Check the fit of the saddle. Is it snug? Too tight? Too loose? Some horses have cold backs and need to be warmed before riding. Others are sensitive to their saddles. If the horse begins biting, trying to kick or swishing its tail after saddling the problem may be a sore back. A sore back may be the indicator of a poor saddle fit. Contact the vet or an equine chiropractor if the problem persists.
9. Check the feed and water buckets to ensure the horse is eating/drinking properly. If not, this could be a sign of colic, a blockage, or many other conditions.
10. Arthritis often afflicts older horses. There are supplements that contain Glucosamine which may prevent and/or help with arthritis. There are also other treatments depending on the degree of arthritis the horse has such as shots and pills
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