Equine Emergency Protocol

The following situations are considered serious and some are potentially life threatening. You should not hesitate to call the vet immediately if your horse has any of the following:

  • Signs of colic. These can range from  mild lethargy and lack of appetite to pawing, stretching, rolling, inappropriate sweating, turning to look at the abdomen or increasingly violent expressions of pain

  • Any injury with profuse bleeding that won’t stop, lacerations and puncture wounds

  • Obvious or suspected fractures, obvious swelling, foreign bodies

  • Reluctance to move or non weight bearing lameness

  • Horse having seizures.

  • Watery diarrhea.

  • Any apparent eye injury; squinting, tearing  or discharge from the eye

  • Abnormal vital signs, such as elevated pulse or respiration, while at rest.

  • Temperature over 38.6 C or 102 F usually indicates an infection or disease process.

  • Unusual discharge (food material or slime) from nostrils or excessive drooling

  • Awkward or abnormal gait; signs of ataxia or misbalance

Before you call the Vet,  it is important to gather as much information as possible to give to the vet when you call:

  • Vital signs––temperature, pulse and respiration

  • The location and approximate nature of an injury

  • The horse’s demeanour whether he seems depressed or agitated

  • If the horse is lame, tell the vet which leg he is lame on, can he put any weight on the leg and when you first noticed the lameness

  • Location of any swelling and whether there is heat present

Normal Vital Signs:

  • Pulse Rate : 30 – 42 beats per minute

  • Respiratory Rate: 12 to 20 breaths per minute

  • Rectal temperature: 37.1 – 38.2

  • Capillary refill time < 2 seconds

Remember to remain calm as your mood will affect your horse. Get help before attempting to treat or evaluate a distressed horse. You cannot help your horse if you are seriously injured too.

For more detailed information check out AAEP’s Guidelines to Follow During Equine Emergencies

colicing horse

This horse suffers from colic. 

Horse stuck in tire

Are you feeling tired? This horse quickly recovered once the tire came off. 

Horse's head stuck in tree cleavage

Peekaboo! After this horse's head was removed from this tree's cleavage, she  happily went back to chewing the grass.