Watch your horse

From the behavior of the horses we can understand whether they are well or have any health problems. We should learn to recognise the signs


  • #disease
  • #horse health
  • #symptoms

We should learn to watch our horses every day. We should evaluate how they receive us when we arrive at the stable or when we go to fetch them from the paddock.
Whether they come towards us as always and appear to be interactive or instead whether they are reluctant and move with difficulty. We should look into the box to see if it is in order, if there are faeces, if the water tray is clean and works well. When we bring it out of the box we should check that its legs are smooth, without swelling and fresh. When cleaning the hooves we should check that the feet are fresh and dry.
​We should look at the first steps it takes out of the box, before warming up; in fact, lameness may be more noticeable. We should look at the mantle and check that everything is in order. In this way we will be able to perceive the slightest sign and avoid a major problem.

A healthy horse moves in a flexible and lively manner. If when the horse normally comes out of the box and we lead it by hand it is active and follows us walking with energy, then one day instead we notice that it is walking slowly, is listless and is dragging its feet, this means that something is wrong. We should keep it under observation and allow it to rest pending the arrival of the vet.
​When the horse is in the paddock, it normally grazes, it moves about to look for the best tufts, it is alert and attentive, it trots and walks. If it remains motionless, is not eating and has a depressed air about it, it is definitely not feeling well.

When the horse is not feeling well, it is listless and dejected, it stoops its head and has drooping ears. The eyes are dull and do not demonstrate attention or interest. It moves uncertainly, not in a sure and energetic way. Sometimes it can have an ugly coat and give signs of specific disorders, such as localised lameness, symptoms of colic, therefore stomach ache, coughing or other symptoms. But often it does not show obvious signs, just general unwellness. One of the most common symptoms of illness is the loss of appetite, it doesn't eat or merely picks, without enthusiasm and appetite. Another sign of evident illness is its sweating. If the horse sweats while still in the box or sweats excessively even with minimal movements then undoubtedly something is wrong. These are the first clear signals, then gradually the symptoms will become more visible and the problem from which it is suffering will begin to manifest itself.
​Timely intervention of the vet, as already pointed out, can halt the development and worsening of the illness.

If we recognise in our horse some of these signs we must first stop any activities already under way or that we were planning for the day. We should put the horse in the box, leave it in peace, remove the food from the manger and the hay from the box and monitor it while waiting for the vet.
​In fact, the first thing the vet will want to know from the outset are the symptoms that the horse has, how they became evident and to what extent. We must therefore bear in mind each behaviour and sign of the horse. We should observe if the horse has defecated and has urinated. If there are fresh faeces in the box, we should put them to one side to show them to the vet. We should keep them away from draughts and from cold air, covering them if necessary. If we have a thermometer available we could try and take their body temperature which we can then communicate to the vet.
When the vet arrives, they will take over the situation and on the basis of what we will be able to report and from a thorough examination will be able to reach a diagnosis and indicate the correct course of treatment.