Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How do you take a horses' pulse?

Of course, the easiest way to take a horses' pulse is by pressing a stethoscope directly behind the front elbow, in the girth area and listening to the heart. Since a lot of people don't own a stethoscope and even if we did, we may be out riding and not have one with us, it's a good idea for every horse owner to know how to take a pulse without one.

You can take the pulse in numerous places on the horses' body where there are large arteries that can be felt directly under the skin.
  1. One easy spot is directly under the jawbone. Press your index and middle finger into the hollow of the jaw, (the deep depression under the horses head, between the two large jawbones) and feel for the pulse.
  2. The inside back of the front knee is another good place (below the knee, several inches below the chestnut)
  3. Lastly, I would recommend taking the digital pulse at the back of the fetlock. The reason I advise this as the last place to take the pulse is because it is very difficult to actually feel a pulse there. By the way, if you DO feel a strong pulse at the back of the fetlock, it is a good indication that your horse is foundering or in the beginning stages of acute laminitis! It would be a good idea to watch your horse very closely. If you see any signs of or suspect founder, call a vet immediately.
You take the pulse by counting the number of times the heart beats in a minute. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to use a watch or clock that has a second hand and count how many times the heart beats in 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4.
Please feel free to email me your horse questions and I'll do my best to answer them or at least point you to someone or someplace that can. (Scroll down to the "About Me" section and click on "View my complete profile" to send me an email) I look forward to hearing from you! ~Melanie