As a horse owner it’s important for you to be able to know how to check your horse’s vital signs.
An adult horse has a resting pulse rate of 28-45 beats per minute (count the double ‘lub dub’ as one full beat). You should check your horse’s pulse rate several times so that you can establish a baseline for what is normal. A pulse rate of 50 bpm or higher at rest is an indicator that a horse is in physical distress, is excited or nervous, in pain or suffering from a disease.
Checking the digital pulse in the fetlock is an excellent way to determine if there is a problem such as laminitis. It’s a good idea to know what your horse’s digital pulse normally feels like so that you have a baseline. When a horse has a stronger than usual digital pulse you should call your vet.
There are three ways to check your horse’s pulse.
Tips & Warnings
Don’t use your thumb when checking for a pulse under the jawbone. You may inadvertently feel your own pulse.
When checking the digital pulse get a baseline on all four hooves. A normal resting pulse is very light. If you feel a throbbing pulse, call your veterinarian. A strong digital pulse is often a sign of laminitis.