Checking the heart rate of a horse is a good way to monitor the health of a horse, and to do this we need to know what the normal horse heart rate is. The speed at which a horse’s heartbeats is a key indicator of their health and fitness levels, and it is easy to learn how to check this at home. Let’s find out everything you need to know about the normal horse heart rate!
Why Is The Heart Rate Of A Horse Important?
If you have ever watched a veterinarian do a health check on your horse, you will see them listen to your horse’s heart and count the speed at which it is beating. This is an important part of monitoring the health of a horse and can tell us a lot of useful information.
When a horse is at rest, the heart should be beating relatively slowly. The average heart rate of a healthy horse is from 28 to 44 beats per minute. Miniature ponies have higher heart rates, up to 48 beats per minute. Large draft breeds of horses have slower heart rates, as do sports horses with a high level of fitness.
If the horse is unwell, one of the first symptoms is an elevated heart rate. A high heart rate will frequently occur in horses that have a raised temperature, or that are dehydrated. When horses are unwell it can be difficult to see that they are in pain, but a raised heart rate is a key indicator of this.
The normal horse heart rate also increases when they are exercising, particularly when doing intense work such as galloping and jumping. The horse trainer can use the heart rate to assess the fitness levels of the horse. As the horse becomes fitter, it will be able to exercise for longer periods without the heart rate increasing too much.
A horse will also have an elevated heart rate if it is excited or stressed. If you are traveling your horse in a trailer, or have moved him to a yard with new equine friends, you can expect his heart rate to be higher than normal.
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How Do You Check The Heart Rate Of A Horse?
If you own or look after a horse, it can be very useful to learn how to check its heart rate. There are two reasons for this – firstly, you will know what the normal baseline heart rate for your horse is. This means that if you are worried that the horse is unwell, you can check the heart rate to see if it is higher than normal.
It is also useful to learn how to check your horse’s heart rate so that, in an emergency, you don’t panic and get flustered when asked to check this vital body function. It can also help your horse get used to having his heart rate checked, so he is not so nervous when the veterinarian visits.
There is one simple way to check the normal horse heart rate, and that is by measuring the pulse. The pulse is the name used to describe the movement felt when blood moves through the veins and arteries of the horse. By placing your fingers lightly over a key blood vessel, you can count these pulses to calculate the heart rate.
The best place to monitor a horses pulse is at the external maxillary artery. To do this, cup your hand under the horse’s head and place your fingertips on the inside of the lower jawbone, just below the throat. Roll your fingers gently over the skin until you feel something like a string of spaghetti under the skin – this is the artery.
Hold your fingertips lightly on the artery, and you should feel a ‘pulse’ every one to two seconds. Each pulse may have two beats; this is one heartbeat, and there will be a gap before the next one. Count the beats over a period of 15 or 30 seconds, and multiply the total by 2 or 4 to obtain the heart rate per minute.
What Does A Horse Heart Beat Sound Like?
Another way to check the normal horse heart rate is using a stethoscope to listen to the heart. This is the method that your veterinarian will use, as they can also identify abnormalities by listening to the heart. If you struggle to feel the pulse of your horse, it can be a good idea to keep a stethoscope in your first aid kit, and practice using it on your horse.
When listening to a horse’s heart, most of us will hear two sounds for each heartbeat. This is often described as a ‘lub-dub’ sound. In a healthy horse with a high level of fitness, you may hear four distinct sounds for each heartbeat.
So, as we have learned, the normal horse heart rate is between 28 and 48 beats per minute. Each beat of the horses heart has two distinctive pulses that can be felt or heard. It is important to learn how to check the heart rate of your horse and to know what your horse’s normal heart rate is.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the normal heart rate for a horse – leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
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What Is A Normal Horse Heart Rate?
The normal heart rate for a horse will vary, depending on the size, age, and fitness of the horse. It can be as low as 28 beats per minute in a large breed horse. A newborn foal has a high heart rate of up to 120 beats per minute.
What Is The Normal Heart Rate Of An Adult Horse?
An average sized adult horse will have a heart rate of between 28 and 48 beats per minute.
What Is A Normal Miniature Horse Heart Rate?
Small and miniature horses and ponies have a lower heart rate than large horses. The average heart rate for a miniature horse is 36 to 48 beats per minute.
What Heart Rate Is Too High For A Horse?
The heart rate of a horse will become raised during exercise, but if it increases when the horse is at rest this could be a sign of ill health. A heart rate of 50 beats per minute or above can indicated that your horse is unwell. If you are worried about the health of your horse, it is essential to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
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