Normal Horse Vital Signs

Horse-Health Tip: Learn how to check your horse’s vital signs to make sure he’s healthy.

A normal temperature for a horse is between 99.5 and 101.5 F.

Here’s how to check your horse’s temperature:

    • Lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
    • Attach a string to the end of your thermometer if it should fall into your horse’s bedding.
    • Tie a clothespin to the other end of the string so you can attach it to your horse’s tail while you’re taking his temperature.
    • Approach the horse from the side, and do not stand directly behind him.
    • Raise your horse’s tail and insert the thermometer into his rectum.
    • Wait at least one minute, then read the thermometer.

Learn more practical ways to keep your horse healthy and happy. Become an AQHA or AQHYA member and receive America's Horse magazine 10 times a year. It's packed with great horse health information.

Find the Pulse

A normal horse's heartbeat is between 32 and 36 beats per minute.

    • Use your fingers or a stethoscope to find your horse's pulse under his chin or on the left side of his barrel, just behind his left elbow.
    • Each "lub-dub" is considered one beat.
    • Record the rate for 15 seconds and multiply by four to get your horse's heart rate.

Check Breaths

A normal horse exhibits eight to 12 breaths per minute.

    • Watch your horse's chest move in and out, or cup your hand over his nostril and feel the air come out.
    • Use your stethoscope to listen to the breaths as the air travels across the trachea when he inhales and exhales. it should sound clear and consistent.
    • Note the characteristics of your horse's breathing. Are the breaths shallow or deep? Are there any abnormal sounds like squeaking or roaring?

Did You Know?

A horse’s daily water requirement varies from five to 20 gallons, depending on environmental temperature, workload, production state and feed intake. Providing clean, fresh water is a top priority for horse owners.

Learn more about horses' health, including nutritional requirements, in America's Horse magazine. America's Horse is the official member publication of AQHA.