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Not Knowing Your Horses TPR Could Be Deadly
 By Winniefield Park   •   23rd May 2015   •   1,459 views   •   0 comments
Not Knowing Your Horses TPR Could Be Deadly

What is a TPR? TPR stands for Temperature, Pulse and Respiration, and it's something everyone should get to know about their horse. Why? Because these are basic indicators of your horseís health. By getting to know these values while your horse is healthy, youíll know that a change in the numbers is confirming something is awry.

Temperature
A horseís normal temperature range can vary. Depending on the individual normal may be between 98.5F to 101F (36.9C to 38.3C). Take your horseís temperature with a rectal thermometer at different times of the day for a few days. Then, add up all the temperatures and divide them by the number of times you took them. For example, you might have taken your horseís temperature three times over three days--nine times. Divide the total number by nine to learn the average temperature. Now, you have a baseline and will know when the temperature is too high, or too low.

When might a temperature be too high? A horse that canít get out of the heat and sun may have a slightly increased temperature, up to 2%, but so will a horse with a fever. Be concerned about any temperature over 102F. And, temperatures can go too low. This is an indication of hypothermia. My sister recently adopted a baby donkey who was found with a temperature that didnít register on the thermometer.

Taking a temperature takes some diligence. Get a plastic, digital rectal thermometer from the pharmacy. Tie a string to the end of it .Smear some petroleum jelly on the end that goes into the horse. Turn the thermometer on. Lift your horse's tail and insert the thermometer in, but not so far that you can't grasp it to get it out again. The string you tied to it will help you retrieve it should it get 'lost'. When the thermometer beeps, take it out and write down the temperature value. You may have to practice a bit, and your horse might react the first few times you do this, but be patient and careful and it will become routine for both of you.

Related: Horse Vaccines Are Not Necessary
Related: Reasons for Sudden Death in Horses

Pulse
The easiest way to take a pulse is with a heart rate monitor, and while some distance and eventing riders might have these, most of us wonít. These paddles just have to be held against the horseís girth area for an instant reading. The next best thing is a stethoscope and these can be bought online or at pharmacies fairly cheaply. If you are only going to be using it occasionally, a less expensive one is fine. If youíre going to be using it a lot, buy one that is comfortable for your ears. Iíve had sore ears after a day of listening to pulses at a distance ride.

Use your stethoscope by placing the round end on the girth area, just behind the elbow. You may have to move the stethoscope around a bit to find the right spot. Listen to the pulse for 30 seconds, counting each lub-dub beat. Then, multiply your count by two, to give you a beat per minute value. A resting heart rate is 28 to 45 bpm. Foals have a heart rate of 80 to 100 bpm. If your horse is excited, or nervous, itís pulse will be higher. A horseís heart rate can go up to 240 bpm when itís galloping hard. If itís been working, you may hear it gradually decline from its working rate. If your horse appears ill though, and has a racing heart beat, itís time to call the vet.

If you donít have a stethoscope, you may use your fingers to feel the pulse on the large artery under the chin. This takes some practice to find the right spot, and you have to be careful that youíre not feeling a pulse in your own fingers.

Respiration
No equipment is needed to count a respiration rate. Just use your eyes to observe the rise and fall of your horseís flank. Donít look at or feel the nostrils, as horses will sniff and throw the reading. At rest, a relaxed horse may only breathe four times a minute. The normal range is 8 to 20 breaths per minute. When a horseís respiration rate is greater than its pulse, itís called an inversion, and can be a sign of stress. Any panting, or distressed breathing that is not work related, is a sign of a problem. Get to know your horseís respiration rates, so youíll know what is normal and what is not.
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