Few people, if anyone, spend more time with your horse than you. The role of primary caretaker and horse health advocate generally falls on the person in closest contact with said equine. The well-rounded horse person is more than a good rider. He or she is educated in normal parameters of horse health and a keen observer, on the look-out for anything that is abnormal, for that individual horse.

Here, Laura Frost, DVM, a partner at Halton Equine Veterinary Services in Puslinch, Ontario, Canada, and Brianne Henderson, BVMS, MRCVS, of the Ferguson Equine Veterinary Services and Toronto Equine Hospital, both in Ontario, Canada, will discuss the important role the horse owner plays in maintaining and optimizing their horse’s health.

Get to Know Your Horse

Waiting until you have a reason to take a horse’s vitals is essentially the same as shutting the barn door after the great escape. Frost points out vitals vary from horse to horse.

“It is important to know if your horse sits at the low or high end of any given vitals range for you to have a good base line,” she said.

Take the horse’s vitals when you can gain the most accurate reading for a resting rate (i.e., not right before feeding, after being outside in the sun, while under tack, or after exercise [unless you are monitoring recovery rates]).

Frost and Henderson concur that grooming is more than knocking off the dirt in preparation for riding but a full body check that can alert owners to any swellings, soreness, changes in behavior, or ailments that might require close monitoring or immediate attention. No stranger to the sport of endurance