Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Heart or Pulse Rate Low or Skipping Beats

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

A very low heart rate in horses is generally not considered a problem. In fact, it is a common finding in very fit athletic horses. You may also notice that the heart seems to skip a beat. This is usually a harmless and common arrhythmia (called A-V Block), and is usually not a reason for alarm.

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to general attitude, pulse strength and regularity, gum color and capillary refill time. Try exercising your horse for 5 minutes at the trot, and listen to the heart again. You will probably notice that the skipped beats have disappeared. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

Your vet will help you determine whether your horse’s heart rate and rhythm is within normal range, or not. If there is a question about its significance, EKG and other diagnostics may be recommended.

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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