Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price
It is important to regularly check your horse’s temperature. This will allow you to detect potential problems early and prevent them from becoming serious. Unexpected temperature increases could be a sign of an injury or illness. This can alert you to any conditions that cause your horse to overheat. An example: A strenuous ride on a warm winter day can be more difficult for unclipped horses than you think. This could cause his temperature to climb into the dangerous zone.
Every day, I recommend that you take your horse’s resting temperature. You’ll be able to get an idea of your horse’s baseline temperature. The average horse’s resting temperature is between 99 and 100 degrees F. However, this can change depending on many factors such as weather and time of day. Keep track of the horse’s temperature readings over several days to determine a range. For recording his resting pulse, respiration, and these readings, hang a dry erase board near his stall.
Although it may seem like a chore, you will soon find that checking temperatures regularly is not difficult. It takes very little time and can be done with some practice. You can track your horse’s fitness by knowing his baseline. Horses can experience a temperature rise of several degrees when they exercise, especially during warm days. They typically drop back within 20-30 minutes of exercise. Take your horse’s temperature right after you untack him to see how quickly he recovers. If your horse’s temperature is not returning to normal, you can continue cooling him by walking, bathing, standing in the shade, or in front a fan. Every 10 minutes, take the temperature again. Call your veterinarian if your pet’s temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or does not return to normal in 45 minutes.
After a few attempts, most horses will cooperate with you taking their temperature. Some horses will even let you move their tails for you, once you’ve done it a few times. Ask your vet or other experienced horseperson for help if you have never tried it before.
Look for thermometers that are specifically designed to be used rectally when you shop for them. You should also purchase an analog thermometer to familiarize yourself with the device in case it fails. For multiple horses, you should purchase one digital thermometer as well as one backup analog thermometer. This will save you the effort of sterilizing each thermometer every time it is used. The thermometers should be kept in a horse-proof container, such as your grooming kit. This will make it easy to access them from the horse’s stall.
Ask a friend to help you check your horse’s comfort with the process. If your horse gets scared, he might panic at the thought of cross-tying or tying.
What you’ll need:
Amy K. Dragoo/AIMMEDIA
* Digital rectal thermometer
* An analog rectal thermometer equipped with a string attached securely to its end (for example, with electrical tape).
* Securely attach a hair clip to the other end of string
* K-Y(tm), Jelly
* Washcloth/rag clean
* Dry-erase board to track vital signs
* A clock or watch (not shown).
Desensitizing Touchy Horses
Spend several sessions with your horse to get him used to touching the area.
Liv Gude spent many years riding jumpers, reiners, and saddle riders before she switched to professional grooming. Her grooming career began with Olympian Guenter Seldel. She believes that grooming is about more than just daily care.
Gude has been grooming horses for many years and realized the importance of bringing professional groomers and owners together in an educational and supportive environment. ProEquineGrooms.com was founded by Gude in 2011. It provides information on grooming, employment, and horse care. Gude also hosts a podcast about grooming and horse care.