Your horse’s pulse can be taken anywhere a major artery is close to the skin. The area easiest to read will be the artery just above the fetlock. Here you will get the strongest pulse just to the outside of the fetlock. It’s possible to palpate any artery on the inside and outside of the fetlock, but usually it’s so slight it would be very hard to feel it. In fact, when you feel a pulse in that area, it generally means there is inflammation in the foot. The best way to get a pulse is using a stethoscope which people can generally purchase at uniform stores or online, but aside from that, the facial artery is the most reliable location.You may also take the pulse by reaching up under the jaw and then pushing upward.
Using two or three fingers feel the artiry until you get a strong pulse. Do not use your thumb. Your thumb has a strong pulse of it’s own and you may get a mixed reading. Count the number of pulses in a 15 second period and then multiply by 4. An irregular, weak, or accelerated pulse can indicate that there is a problem with internal functions.
Finding and taking your horse’s pulse is the most difficult of the vital signs to take. We recommend you practice taking your horse’s vital signs before the need arises. Learning to take them during a crisis can be challenging at best.
A horse’s normal pulse rate:
- Newborn: 120 beats per minute
- Two Week Old Foal: 100 beats per minute
- Four Week Old Foal: 70 beats per minute
- Yearling: 45-60 beats per minute
- Two Year Old: 40-60 beats per minute
- Adult Horse: 30-40 beats per minute