RED ALERT-SIGNS OF DISTRESS
By: Carolyn Miller
Horse goes off feed
Paws the ground intermittently
An out of character aggressiveness or attitude change
Grating or grinding of teeth may be a sign of pain
Very strange or unusual postures or stretching
Rolling on the ground or lying upside down legs drawn in
Sitting in dog like position on the ground
Carrying the weight unevenly from front and rear rather than balanced
Ouchy feet, not walking normally
Good horsemanship also requires that you know your horse best. The best defense against catching an emergency in time is knowing your horse’s behavior.
AS A LAY PERSON YOU CAN DO THE FOLLOWING
Temperature should be checked and noted. A good digital with probe covers works well.
Check the color of the mucous membranes on gums to make sure they are not pale or blue, the possible indication of respiratory stress or shock. Respiration normally is about 16 breaths per minute with a pulse rate of not over 50 per minute, which could indicate again, shock or dehydration. The capillary refill time should be done by pressing against the upper gum of the horse’s mouth. Having pushed the blood out it now should appear white and should return to color within two to three seconds, again letting you know that the blood is not compromised somehow. Listen in flank areas to see if you hear a churning and good gut mobility, a clue as to whether you are dealing with a colic and blockage. It might also be wise to run your hands over your horse to see if any particular area appears to cause them more distress, indicating a particular area of concern.
You now have a good documentation of vital signs to relay to your vet who may guide you in caring for your horse interim of their inspection and care. What you do can save your horse.
Always, call your vet.
When possible make sure you acquire some good home veterinary reference books. Please see my Reference Library of Books.
This article is subject to error, omissions and interpretation. Always check with your vet.