In addition I created a few videos to help you learn how to perform each of these. For those I didn't do I searched and found the best instructional video (in my opinion) :-) BODY CONDITION SCORING- great place to start. Average healthy horse score = 5-6. Determine your horse's overall score and do this once per month to catch weight loss or gain, which could indicate a problem. For more about this topic click here
GUM REFILL- Average refill rate = 1-2 seconds. It's important to check this vital sign when you suspect something might be wrong. Any delay of return of color could indicate poor blood perfusion which can result from dehydration, shock or other illness.
SKIN PINCH TEST/DEHYDRATION- Average rebound rate is 2-3 seconds. When the skin doesn't return to it's normal position after pinching...you might have problems.
RESPIRATION- Average resting rate = 8-15 breaths/minute. Before you consider your horse's rate "abnormal" take into consideration things that can affect the rate; temperature, exercise, and stress. Try to note the characteristics of the breathing as well; is it labored? Does your horse groan when he breaths?
HEART RATE/PULSE- Average resting rate = 40 beats/minute. Try to keep in mind that horses are all different so "normal" for a fit horse will not be the same as for one that isn't. Any rate over 40 is cause for concern however and 50-60 are considered serious. Over 80 is critical.
TEMPERATURE- Average resting temp = 100 degrees F. Consider weather when measuring temp as winter/cold outside temps can result in lower (97 degrees) rectal temp.
This video is from my friend Cindy at Deer Creek Equine
Hope this helps you determine your baselines as well as any abnormalities in your horse's health!
~Til we meet again....