The information that we are providing is designed to give you some understanding of what may occur and more importantly to alert you to a situation that should be dealt with by an expert – your vet!
Having said that, it is important to make sure that the veterinarian that looks after your dog or cat actually has horse experience and, preferably, a lot of horse experience.
If you are lucky enough to have just bought your first horse, we would suggest you find out straight away who is the best equine vet in your area. Don’t wait until you have a problem or – worse still – an emergency, before thinking about whom you should call. Always have their number handy (near the phone or on the fridge, as well as in your wallet and on your mobile phone) and let everyone in the family know where they can find the number.
The most important thing you can do is to know your horse and what is normal for him or her. For instance, two early indicators of ill health are behaviour and appetite. What we are looking for with any horse is ‘BAR’, which stands for Bright, Alert and Responsive. If your horse fails to respond to you, looks depressed or shows little or no interest in his food you should treat these signs as important and take immediate action.
Your next step is to check your horse’s Temperature, Pulse and Respiration (TPR). See our article on Vital Signs for a full explanation of what, when and how.