Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Rapid Pulse Persists Longer Than Normal after Exercise

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the horse is reluctant to move, along with this sign.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If this is the only sign and the horse seems normal otherwise.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

The body regulates heart (pulse) rate dependent upon a variety of signals. The goal is for the tissues to be adequately oxygenated and for waste products of cell metabolism to be adequately removed.

If fitness is poor, the pathways that lead to this exchange are not well developed, and so gas exchange is poor. Signals are sent out from the tissues in the blood to ask for more bloodflow. The heart’s contribution to this is to beat faster and with more force. The pulse rate corresponds to the heart rate.

A rapid pulse is normal with exercise. It should also drop at a given rate once exercise is finished. A pulse that remains higher than expected, even after rest, suggests lack of fitness, or could indicate a variety of other physical and metabolic problems. Pain and anxiety are two stimuli which keep the heart rate elevated.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to whether the horse is reluctant to move, or seems depressed. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet uses careful physical examination, assessment of your horse before and after exercise, and other diagnostics to rule out common causes for this observation.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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