How to take your horse’s digital pulse

By Wendy Talbot on 06 April 2018

Palpation of your horse’s digital pulse in your horse’s lower leg can be useful to detect if there is inflammation in the feet, often associated with laminitis or an abscess in the foot.

How to check your horse’s digital pulse 

Feel for the cord-like structure by gently placing your first two fingers horizontally behind the pastern bone on either side, just where it joins the fetlock. Alternatively, the pulse may be more obvious slightly further up on either side of the back of the fetlock.

Palpation of the pulse takes practice and it is important to use your fingers not a thumb as you will only feel your own pulse with the latter! If you can’t feel anything, try not pressing so hard as it is easy to squash the blood vessel.

Watch our video on how to take your horse’s digital pulse (courtesy of brookfarmstables)

What are vital signs?

The principal vital signs for horses are temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and mucus membrane colour. Knowing the normal range of your horse’s vital signs and how to take them will help you to monitor his health and can give you an important early warning that something could be wrong. Being familiar with your horse’s normal weight is also important because changes may indicate ill health. Always call your vet immediately if any vital signs are not as expected.

The principal vital signs for horses are temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and mucus membrane colour. Knowing the normal range of your horse’s vital signs and how to take them will help you to monitor his health and can give you an important early warning that something could be wrong. Being familiar with your horse’s normal weight is also important because changes may indicate ill health. Always call your vet immediately if any vital signs are not as expected.

How to take your horse’s temperature

References:

BHS

World Horse Welfare

Wormers Direct

thehorse.com

Extension

Equimed.com

BlueCross

Comments

DR WENDY TALBOT BVSC CERT EM (INT MED) DECEIM MRCVS


Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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