top of page


Your horse seems a little "off," but do you know what his "normal" is?

To determine if your horse is sick, it’s important to know his normal body metrics: weight, body condition score (BCS), temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate, muscle tone, mucous membrane appearance, and gut sounds.

Normal body metrics for horses can vary based on factors such as breed, age, and individual variation. Here are some general guidelines you can use to assess the health and condition of your horse:


The weight of a horse can vary widely depending on the breed and type of horse. The important thing to note is what your horse’s typical weight is, and if you see her weight fluctuating from that point.

Body Condition Score (BCS):

BCS is a subjective measure of a horse’s body fat and muscle condition. The scale typically ranges from 1 to 9, with 1 being emaciated and 9 being obese. A BCS of 5 is considered ideal.


The normal body temperature for a horse can range from 99.5 degrees F to 101.5 degrees F. Your horse’s temperature is a critical piece of information to provide Dr. Suzanne when you call for an appointment if your horse is sick. NOTE: Knowing how to safely measure your horse’s temperature is an essential skill for all horse owners.

Respiratory Rate:

The resting respiratory rate for a horse is usually between 8 and 16 breaths per minute.

Heart Rate:

The resting heart rate for a horse is usually between 28 and 44 beats per minute.

Muscle Tone:

A healthy horse should exhibit good muscle tone with no signs of atrophy or excessive fat deposits.

Mucous Membranes:

The mucous membranes of a healthy horse will be pink and moist. To check mucous membrane condition, lift your horse’s upper lip. The tissue under her hips and surrounding her teeth should be pink and moist.

Gut Sounds:

In a healthy horse, you should hear gurgling, gas-like growls, “tinkling” or fluid sounds, and occasional “roars”.

Horses may have variations outside these ranges. It’s important to know what the normal metrics for your horse are and to monitor them closely for changes. If your horse’s metrics are outside their normal range, a call to our office is warranted!

Any refusal to eat a meal or to get up from a recumbent position is also a clue that your horse needs medical assistance.

It's super helpful to have your horse’s metrics handy when calling for an appointment. This information helps Dr. Suzanne determine how emergent your horse’s situation is. We've created a handy Body Metrics Tracking Sheet that can be included in your horse's health binder. Email us at if you'd like a copy!

15 views0 comments


bottom of page