Horses are notoriously stoic animals, hiding pain as long as possible because of their fight-or-flight instincts. Horse owners and caretakers can help ensure their horse is pain-free by knowing what “normal” is for each animal, reports The Horse.
Horse owners should take note of things like when each of their horses lies down and for how long; how a horse interacts with his herd mates in turnout; how he acts when someone approaches his stall; and how well he eats his meals. Each of these, along with other seemingly “small” details, can indicate something is amiss when they differ from a horse's normal.
Also, knowing each horse's normal heart rate can be critical in determining if a horse is ill, as a raised heart rate is often associated with pain. The ability to take a horse's heart rate can help tell the difference between a horse who is being dramatic and a stoic horse that is truly in pain.
Pain affiliated with lameness can be harder to assess; “head nodding” is one of the most commonly used signs to detect that a horse is off. More-subtle signs may also indicate that a horse is not 100 percent, these can include things like not stepping off as rapidly when asked or tiring more easily during ridden work.
Read more at The Horse.
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