Health Check

The most important piece of knowledge you need is what is normal for each individual equine you are working with. Just like humans what is normal for one person might not be normal for another and if we are going to be able to recognise when things aren’t right with an equine we need to know what we are comparing it to.

If we don’t know whether a horse normally finishes his hay overnight, how would we know if he has lost his appetite or not? If we don’t know that a horse lies down most mornings in the field we might see him lying down and think he has colic (abdominal pain) when in fact it is his morning nap. If we don’t know that a horse has an old injury on their leg we might find it whilst grooming and not know if it is old and can be ignored or is new and requires attention.

Grooming is a good time to get to know individual equines and palpate (feel) all over their bodies to get to know what is normal for the horse. You will also learn how they interact with people, what their normal demeaner is and what behaviours are normal for them. 

Before each session you should check each horse and make sure that there have been no changes to their health. Even if the change seems small and you aren’t sure if it is important or not, it should still be reported to the relevant person who looks after equine health and welfare. Small changes over time can be part of a larger trend and it is better to notice things than to miss things because you don’t know if they’re important or not.

Some groups use a communication book for anyone handling their equines to write down any observations to ensure that information is not lost.