Knowing your horse’s normal vital signs – heart and respiratory rate, etc. -- is critical to catching health problems in their earliest stages. Knowing the less tangible signs of discomfort are equally important.
We grooms have an edge here because it’s our job to take the best possible care of our horses. We likely spend more time than anyone else with our eyes on the horses. Carefully observing the subtle clues in their behaviour and their moods becomes a horsemanship habit that anyone can work on developing.
I’m happy to share some of the most valuable observations I’ve made over many years caring for international competition horses.
Here’s are some common red flags I’ve seen, and what they might mean. These are not a substitute for having your horse in regular veterinary care and consulting them whenever you are concerned.