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Signs of Life

Learning the essential skills of taking and assessing vital signs requires that you first know what is normal – and most importantly, what

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By: Teresa Pitman |

Assessing your horse’s fitness through monitoring vital signs is an integral part of day-to-day training and care, says veterinarian Dr. Art King of Fort Erie, ON, who often officiates at high-level endurance competitions. “Many potentially serious conditions can be detected at an early stage by this simple series of checks.” The good news is that you don’t need a lot of equipment or time: a stethoscope, a thermometer (ideally one with a clip attached), and a watch with a second hand will help you gather all the information you need. Preparation and Overview King recommends tying the horse or having someone hold it, and then start your fitness check by inserting the thermometer into the horse’s rectum and clipping it to the animal’s tail. “It takes time for the thermometer to indicate the temperature, so you will save time overall by doing this,” he explains. Now do a quick overview…

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