This is an at-a-glance checklist to help you maintain a healthy horse.
- Eyes – Should be bright and clear.
- Mucous Membranes – Should be pink and moist
- Capillary Refill – Should be around 1 second
- Skin and Coat – Coat should have a shine and be free of visible injury.
- Gut – Gurgling sounds are normal
- Heart Rate – Resting heart rate is 36-44 beats per minute
- Respiratory Rate – Average 10-24 breaths per minute
- Back – Should be relaxed. Muscles should not be tense and there should be no sign of rubs or sores from the saddle or girth.
- Legs and Joints – Should have no heat or distinct swelling. Gait should be normal with no stiffness or visible discomfort.
- Hooves – Should be free of injury, including cracks or odor.
- Attitude – Should be alert, happy and bright.
- Appetite – Should be consuming feed, hay, and water readily, as it is provided. Reluctance to eat can be a sign of illness or other issues.
This infographic is a great explanation of the snaffle bit.
Why do we need to condition our horses? To build stamina and reduce injury risk.
Have your veterinarian confirm your horse is healthy and sound for work. Have your farrier check his feet.
- Light: 1-3 hours of riding per week
- Moderate: 3-5 hours with some skill work
- Heavy: 4-5 hours with substantial skill work
- Very Heavy: 6-12 hours
Know our horse’s normal temperature, pulse and respiration. Check these before and after exercise to determine fitness.
Normal Temperature – Heart Rate – Respiratory Rate
- Temperature – 98-101° F
- Heart Rate – 32-40 BPM
- Respiratory Rate – 8-20 Breaths per minute
- Temperature – > 103° F
- Heart Rate – >200 BPM during moderate exercise
- Respiratory Rate – 80-100 breaths per minute
Just like in humans your horses heart rate after exercise returns to normal faster as your horse becomes fitter.
Start with frequent, short, low-intensity workouts to prevent injuries, and increase duration and intensity gradually, especially if your horse is under- or overweight.
Warm your horse up slowly. Cool him down after work with hand-walking, hosing and fans.