Paying attention to your horse’s physical appearance and behavior can actually tell you a lot about their health. Your horse’s health should always be your top priority. But in order to know if your horse is unhealthy, it’s important to know what a healthy horse looks like. Evaluating your horse can take as little as 10 minutes each day, and it can save your horse’s life. Here are the areas you want to check to ensure your horse is in top condition.

How Healthy Is Your Horse?

Hair Coat

A horse’s coat can be quite telling. If your horse’s coat is radiant and shiny, then your horse is definitely meeting his nutritional requirements and probably getting groomed frequently. An unhealthy coat may look dull, rough, scraggly, brittle, or greasy. An unappealing coat can signify a few health concerns like: parasites, fungal infections, poor nutrition, or even over-shampooing. If you notice your horse’s coat is anything but shiny, it’s time to take a closer look. Horses do grow two coats each year, one at the beginning of spring and the other at the beginning of fall. If you notice excessive shedding outside of these seasons, it may be a sign of a health issue.


Horses love to eat so when you notice a decrease in appetite, you know something’s wrong. Infectious diseases like West Nile and influenza tend to spike up a horse’s temperature while also taking away its desire to eat. Check your horse’s body temperature to get a better idea of what’s going on. Adult horses have a resting body temperature ranging from 99-101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, while a foal’s temperature range is 99.5-102.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Another thing to check is your horse’s teeth. If his teeth cause him any pain, he may avoid eating all together. Once you’ve checked your horse’s temperature and teeth, you can contact your veterinarian for next steps.

Vital Signs

Checking vital signs is one of the best ways to catch an issue at its earliest. Be sure to check your horse’s vital signs when he is calm and relaxed. A happy, excited, or stressed horse may have an accelerated heart rate, while heat may also play a role in accelerated heart rates. The healthy range for an adult horse is 28-48 beats per minute, with larger breeds being on the lower end. A rate over 60 beats per minute may indicate a severe condition that will require a vet visit immediately. Newborn foals tend to have much higher heart rates, ranging from 80-120 beats per minute.


You know your horse, so you’ll probably be the first to notice any changes in his attitude. Healthy horses are bright and alert, and attentive to you and their surroundings. Healthy horses may roll occasionally, but if you notice your horse rolling over and over, there may be more to the story. In addition to constant rolling, a horse looking to its side can often mean it is suffering from colic. Be sure to contact your vet if you notice either of these behaviors, along with anything else that is very out of the ordinary for your horse.

Eyes & Nose

A horse’s eyes can be as telling as a human’s. Healthy horses have clear, fully open, and clean eyes. If you notice any discoloration, cloudiness, or unusual discharge then it’s time to call your vet. The nostrils should be clear and free of excessive mucus, but it is normal for a horse to have a trickle of clear liquid from the nostrils.

Your horse’s health should always be your main concern. Performing a quick evaluation each day can mean the difference between life or death. As a horse owner, you are more likely to notice a change in their behavior or physical appearance before anyone else. Adding this quick and easy evaluation to your morning routine can keep your horse healthy and happy for years to come!