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Have a thermometer on hand

and also an inexpensive stethoscope to get important information for your veterinary call.


You can use any thermometer. Lubricate (saliva or gel) and insert it into the rectum and hold for 3 minutes. Make sure and shake down the mercury thermometers before inserting to get a true reading. Don’t worry about losing the thermometer into the rectum. You won’t. It is more important to get an idea if your horse is running a fever if it seems to be lethargic or sick than being concerned about that.

To take a pulse, either put a stethoscope behind and under the left elbow and listen for the heartbeat. Count for 30 seconds and multiply X 2 to get your horse’s pulse for a minute.

Or you can use the carotid artery which lies under the jawbone to take the pulse. It feels like a little rope that you can roll with your finger tip against the jawbone. Find that “little rope” and count for 30 seconds and X 2 = a 60 second count of a pulse. The knowledge of the pulse is very helpful in ascertaining the pain level and seriousness of a colic.


Vital Statistics Normal Range
Temperature99 – 101.5 degrees farenheit
Heart Rate (tends to be higher in foals)36 – 48 bpm (beats per minute)
Respiratory Rate8 – 12 bpm (breaths per minute)
Mucous MembranesPink and moist
Capillary Refill Time1 – 2 seconds
State of HydrationPinch test should be under two seconds


Abdominal discomfort of varied causes and severity. Do not medicate horse until the veterinarian has been called, as pain medication can mask signs that the veterinarian will need to monitor.

  • Taking a pulse. Why? The pulse is a good indication of the pain level your horse is in. The pain level is a good indicator to the veterinarian of what is going on in the gut; how painful IS the horse and how long has the pain been going on.
  • 40 – 60 BPM, alert veterinarian to situation. Arrange to transport your horse to a hospital facility where they can be monitored around the clock for needed pain and/or further complications. Don’t wait until the last minute to make ‘just in case’ arrangements. The best way to assure a successful outcome is to seek early treatment.
  • 60 – 80 BPM, veterinary attention is necessary
  • 80 BPM plus, IMMEDIATE veterinary attention is needed

A “choke”, unless it is something that cuts off your horse’s breathing, is actually more of a “stuck”. Usually it is a wad of hay or pelleted feed that was fed dry to a fast eater. In this case, saliva swells the dry pellet and the bigger mouthful gets stuck as the horse tries to swallow it, somewhere down the esophagus. You will likely see green “stuff” coming out of the nose, they might be coughing and they might be drooling. They can still breathe, but it is an emergency.
Call a vet to assess situation. Take food and water away and follow professional directions. Do not try sticking a hose down their throat to clear the blockage as you run the distinct risk of drowning your horse.

(wounds/cuts) Immediate attention, keep the wound clean; apply direct pressure until the bleeding stops and then apply a pressure bandage. The sooner the wound is dealt with professionally, the greater the chance of a favorable outcome. Do not apply salves or ointments unless recommended by your veterinarian as this could impede suturing and healing of the wound.

Eye Wounds:
Do not use any eye medication unless specifically directed by a veterinarian. Eyes are extremely vulnerable and any injury should be treated as serious. If you suspect an eye injury, notice unusual watering, swelling or a mucous discharge from the eye, call a veterinarian.

Many veterinarians and even non-veterinarians (Illegally), perform equine dentistry. Correct dentistry, as with humans, has a great impact on a horse’s health, comfort and performance. There is a great deal of difference in dental care and expertise. Go to our dental informational website to learn more:

Feeding starts out with good forage and is supplemented with vitamins and minerals and perhaps some grain products depending on the horse’s job. Call our clinic and we can talk about your horse’s needs and point you in the right direction. We also do client education nights and discuss subjects like this.

Feet should be trimmed or reshod every 6 – 8 weeks to keep a horse sound. Judging quality farrier work by how long the shoes stay on, is not a good basis for judgment.

Can be from many sources. Body soreness to an abscess of the foot. Call for a good lameness exam to see what needs to be done to make your horse comfortable and avoid further damage.

We find that some horses are unusually itchy, might cough a lot, might have runny nose or eyes, loose hair, among other things and the cause is allergies. Our clinic has a very successful allergy testing and treatment program. Call us to learn more.

The normal way a horse gets poisoned is with plants and usually over time. County extension offices usually have a local poisonous plant book that it would be good to check out.

Do you have “vacation boarding” for my horse when I am on vacation

Can you board my horse if I am having trouble administering medications or treatments? YES

Do you have any equine weight loss or conditioning programs? YES, we have our READY to RIDE program for conditioning and weight management for the “weekend warrior” rider.

Do you treat other farm animals? YES, we see llamas, alpacas, goats, small farm animals.