It doesn’t need to be said when you are an owner of a living thing, and you have to take proper care of it. People who are responsible for taking care of horses aren’t exempted from that responsibility either. They should be able to judge and choose the most ethical and rational way possible to help lower the pain. That is why it is crucial to have some basic knowledge about equine health and recognise signs of illness in horses immediately. 

As important as it is to recognise signs of distress, it is equally as essential to keep your equine veterinarian’s contact details at arm’s length. Fortunately, our vets are available even out of office hours, which you can learn more about here. You should also keep your horse’s passport accessible because if not, some treatments may not be available. 

Signs of An Unhealthy Horse

Horse owners/keepers should recognise what normal behaviour is and tell when a horse might be suffering from poor health. Some symptoms of poor health are:

  • Any form of liquid substances leaking from the nose/eye/ear area
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Increased rate of sweating and respiration 
  • Lameness or injury, including puncture wounds
  • Unable to stand correctly or hesitant/reluctant to stand
  • Reluctant to move or pawing at the ground often
  • Change in coat or foot condition
  • Sudden change in weight could be gain or loss
  • Change in behaviour
  • Droppings different than usual or signs of diarrhoea
  • Change in drinking habits or appetite

Honestly, you don’t even need a list of the signs that constitute distress. When you notice that there is something unusual about your horse’s demeanour, you should contact your veterinary practice as soon as possible. 

Contacting your vet immediately will help curb the further deterioration of the pain. The vet will identify the source of the pain, and immediate action should be taken. If the horse continues to be in pain or ill, or the cause isn’t clear, you must note that the initial treatment was not as effective, and you need to take veterinary advice. 

When it comes to foot or hoof problems, your equine vet might suggest a farrier if needed to investigate further. Any advice given by the farrier must be followed thoroughly to get your horse better. 

How can I prevent my horse from getting sick? 

The truth is that you can’t help it unless your eyes have the same clarity as that of a microscope. However, you can lower your horse’s chances of getting sick by following routine management of proper healthcare. 

A vet or professional equine veterinarian would suggest getting a parasite control programme, which includes the use of wormers and suitable faecal worm egg counts. This also includes careful pasture management such as rotation of grazing and dung collection. All these are general things you should do to enforce an effective parasite control programme. 

At times, these programs should be discussed to a greater extent with your vet so that you can control the spread of infectious and contagious diseases better. 

Isolate The New Horse

If a new horse is arriving at the yard, it is necessary to isolate it before introducing it to the rest of the herd. During the isolation period, the new horses should not come in contact with the other horses, and different equipment should be used for grooming and caring. 

The isolation period is said to bring out any clinical signs of diseases present in the horse and prevent the other horses from getting infected. 

Consult your vet to get your horse inspected and tested against any suspected diseases. If the new horse turns out to be affected, further decisions must be made about what measures should be taken to prevent the infections from spreading to other horses. 

Here are the following things you can do while tending to the unhealthy horse:

  • Isolate them
  • Don’t use the same equipment for all horses
  • Disinfect the footbaths between stables and change them
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and change clothes when caring for the affected horse


All horses should be vaccinated against tetanus as they tend to be highly contagious. Your horses should also be vaccinated against all infectious diseases such as equine influenza(flu) and equine herpes virus, which causes damage to the respiratory and abortion in mares. For more information on what your horse should be vaccinated against, consult with your vet, as they can provide advice depending on what kind of horse you have. 

Mares tend to be at a higher risk of contracting the equine herpes virus than younger horses. It is relatively common in pregnant mares, so they should be separated from all the other horses, just in case. 

Routine dental inspection

Teeth are to be inspected at least once a year by an equine vet or trained professional. This is because horses with worn-out or damaged teeth cannot chew food, which leads to poor digestion. Additionally, they may suffer from dental pain. 

Here’s how you can know that your horse is experiencing dental problems:

  • When riding, there are abnormal mouth movements
  • Lack of energy and poor condition
  • Food dropping out of their mouth, mostly, half-chewed

In Any Case

Contact your nearest equine veterinarian immediately if you suspect there might be an outbreak or notice a change in their daily behaviour. If you reside within Essex, we do free visits to three zones to inspect horses and cover vaccinations. To know more, click here or contact us

For more informational blogs such as this one, consider checking out our other content!