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10 unmistakable signs

Just like with humans, early identification of health problems in a horse is essential. By treating them as soon as possible, you limit the complications often involving heavier care which, not only can be difficult for the horse to bear, but also prove to be costly. Here is a list of 10 signs that will answer a number of questions you may have.

Sign 1: The boxing horse

A horse can limp in different ways, depending on the cause and the severity: the horse can simply be embarrassed or not set foot at all. In any case, even if it is only an annoyance, this type of problem should not be neglected.

If possible, it is important to identify the affected limb. If this is not obvious and the horse has to be worked on, it is best to ask the help of a third party who observes the horse at a trot, in a straight line. But even with an outside eye, it’s not always easy.

If you think you have identified the affected foot, do not neglect the other side. You will be able to carefully clean your horse’s feet to eliminate the possible presence of pebbles or nails. Then, it is advisable to limit the movements of the horse to avoid aggravating the situation. If you find that the member is swollen, you can shower it with cold water. These will be the only actions that you will have to authorize. Even if you are keen to relieve the horse, any other intervention, in particular the taking of anti-inflammatory drugs, risks distorting the examination by the veterinarian. Depending on the pathology from which he suffers, this may even make the situation worse.

Sign 2: The horse has a temperature

Temperature measurement is a good indicator of the severity of a horse’s health condition. The thermometer is a tool essential to have in your equine first aid kit. It is preferable to choose a thermometer adapted to equines, because it is easier to handle. The normal temperature for a horse at rest is between 37.5 and 38°C. But it can be a little lower in the morning and a horse can be healthy up to 36.5°C.

To take a horse’s temperature, it is necessary not to have worked it before, to place it in a quiet place and to tie it up. He must be in a safe place so as not to injure himself. Place petroleum jelly on the tip to be introduced into the animal’s rectum, lift the tail and introduce the thermometer. You have to wait a good minute to get the result. After removal, do not forget to disinfect the tip of the thermometer.

Sign 3: The horse coughs

A coughing horse can suffer from different health problems: a virus can be the cause, but also bacteria, an allergy or the flu.

A cough caught in time and properly treated will have little consequence. But if the appropriate treatment is delayed in being administered, the respiratory tract can be affected and serious consequences are to be feared.

It is important toisolate the horse if it mixes with other equids. Because the cough can be the symptom of a contagious disease whose spread must then be limited.

It is possible to relieve the cough while waiting for the consultation of the veterinarian or in addition to a background treatment, provided that the latter does not contraindicate it. This involves giving the horse a decoction made up of sage, linden flowers or yarrow: 50 g to be boiled in sugar water. There are also ready-made syrups on the market. You apply it to the horse’s tongue using a wooden spoon.

As you will have understood, a cough does not require the emergency consultation of a veterinarian. But you must monitor your pet and have it examined if it is not better after a few days.

Sign 4: The horse breathes hard

You observe that the horse is making efforts to breathe. Finding it difficult to exhale the air from its lungs, the animal mobilizes its abdominal muscles as a backup to achieve this. It may be a sign of a emphysema. The phenomenon is usually accompanied by other signs:

  • The horse breathes faster;
  • The nostrils are dilated;
  • The horse recovers badly from its efforts;
  • Secretions come out of the nostrils;
  • The horse loses weight.

The veterinarian will help you identify the causes that triggered the symptoms to modify the horse’s environment and improve its living comfort, if necessary, in addition to medical treatment.

Sign 5: The horse is apathetic

Behavioral changes in the horse are significant because it is a very sensitive. You are the best person to identify them because you know your mount well. Fatigue is a fairly early symptom in many pathologies because the horse’s body is mobilized to fight against the pathogen.
But it can just as well be a minor sign, the horse simply reacting to a rise in outside temperatures or a change in environment. The change of season or the seasonal moult are indeed not without momentarily impacting a horse, a few days. If your horse lacks energy, it is necessary to push your observations to identify the possible presence of other signs and to assess the seriousness of the situation.

Sign 6: The horse has a transit problem

Any change in the horse’s transit must be identified and promptly addressed.

In case of absence of manure and anxious behavior of the horse, it can be a question of colic. Call the vet as soon as possible.

In case of soft or liquid manure, try to understand the origin: change of environment, litter or food. Diarrhea is a relatively common pathology in horses, but it is often underestimated by owners. You can complete the observation of the stools by identifying the possible presence of worms. Inspect the horse to identify a white casting at the anus or itching at the tail. Any observations will help the veterinarian make the diagnosis. Very liquid stools require an emergency consultation. A severe dehydration associated with a state of shock can quickly occur.

Sign 7: The horse lies down a lot

A horse lying on the ground for several hours a day is a sign that something is wrong. This position is not natural for a horse and is even detrimental to the proper functioning of its body. A horse actually sleeps most of the time standing up. When the animal lies down, strong inappropriate pressure is exerted on the muscles. In a few hours only, inflammations can appear. The internal organs – lungs and heart in particular – also quickly malfunction. It is therefore essential to react very quickly and consult the veterinarian immediately.

Sign 8: The horse’s hair or skin changes appearance

A hair that looks woolly and shaggy can be a symptom of Cushing’s disease, a very common hormonal disease in older horses, especially from the age of fifteen. At an advanced stage, one can also observe muscle wasting and localized fat deposits on the hanging abdomen.

Small nodules under the hair, grainy skin to the touch, scabs and hairs that fall out… These are the stages of progression of a skin infection caused by a bacterium, the dermatophilosis. Surprisingly, nothing needs to be done. It can certainly be impressive but resolves spontaneously in 90% of cases.

Some hypersensitive horses develop an allergy to the bites of midges of the genus Culicoides: this is equine recurrent summer dermatitis (DERE). You observe red papules, the horse rubs itself to the point of causing hair loss and scabs appear. This is mainly at the level of the limbs, the neck and towards the base of the tail. Appropriate soothing lotions usually come to the end.

Sign 9: The eyes look unusual

Any discharge, sign of irritation or conjunctivitis of the horse’s eyes, whatever the cause, must be treated without delay to limit the aggravations which could cause irreversible sequelae.

Conjunctivitis is a fairly common condition in horses. The eye is red and watery, even swollen. In some cases, thick or yellow fluid may leak from the eye. All this makes the horse itchy, trying to scratch itself, at the risk of aggravating its situation. Only a veterinarian can prescribe eye drops or ointment that can treat the inflammation and relieve the animal.

Sign 10: The horse has lost its appetite or no longer eats

A horse that eats little or nothing, while appearing to be in good health, may suffer from teething problems, an injury or sore in the mouth, inflammation of the gums or of the language. His mouth should definitely be checked by a veterinarian or equine dentist and further examinations if nothing is observed.

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