Is your heart racing yet?

Well actually its our horses hearts that we’ll look at in this post…if your own is racing you’ll probably be well aware already. With the return of training and competitive events, the prospect of group gallops across local beaches and the increased contact with various other horses, our own mounts may find life has suddenly ramped up a gear rather unexpectedly. Whilst its unlikely that this evenings flatwork sessions at Greenacres will induce an equine coronary the ability to take our horses pulse and monitor their day to day response to exercise is a valuable skill to master. The following article from Equus, an online magazine, gives an excellent description of how to nail the technique.

It’s easiest to take a horse’s pulse on his facial artery, which runs underneath his jaw. You’ll find this cordlike structure about an inch behind the junction of the rounded cheek and the straight jawbone.

An underside view of a horse's jaw
One of the easiest places to take a horse’s pulse is on the underside of his jawAdobe Stock

To amplify the pulse, making it easier to detect, press the hardest with your index finger, slightly less with the middle finger, and lightest with the ring finger. Next, use the second hand on your wristwatch to count each surge of blood you feel in 30 seconds, and multiply that number by two.

A horse at rest will typically have a pulse rate between 30 and 40 beats per minute. If a horse who hasn’t just finished exercising has a pulse rate of 50 beats per minute or higher, he may be ill or in pain, so it’s wise to consult your veterinarian.

A good gauge of a horse’s fitness is how quickly his pulse returns to its resting rate post-exercise. After exertion, a horse’s pulse will probably be between 120 beats and 150 beats per minute, or some-times higher.

A horse is generally considered fit when his pulse drops to 70 beats a minute 10 minutes after stopping intense exercise and to below 60 beats 10 minutes after moderate exercise.