First Aid for Horses: Respiration Rate & Breathing
How many breaths your horse takes in a minute can be an important indicator of many conditions, including pain, heart or lung issues.
So what exactly is normal?
Healthy respiration rate for most horses is generally between 8 and 15 breaths per
minute, although it is higher in foals and can be significantly higher just after exercise.
A very relaxed horse can have a rate as low as 4 breaths per minute - that is usually a VERY relaxed horse.
The breathing itself should be calm and unexaggerrated, with relatively even spaces between each inhalation.
What is abnormal breathing?
- Breathing rate over 15 breaths per minute at rest
- Deep movement in the chest at rest- where the chest and/or abdomen have large, exaggerated movement - may indicate serious issues
- Noisy inhalation may indicate a problem, particularly with the upper respiratory tract
- Wheezing or coughing during exercise may also indicate some issues.
How to take a respiratory rate
- Allow the horse to settle and relax.
- Count the number of breaths for 30 seconds.
- Multiply that number by 2 - wallah!
There are some really great apps available for free that can help you easily monitor, count and record the respiratory rate - just search your relevant app store.