Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Heart Sounds Dropped, Missed Beat

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.

You listen to your horse’s heart with a stethoscope and notice a missing heart sound or a completely missing beat: Lub-Dub, Lub-Dub, Lub-dub, Lub…..Lub-Dub, etc. Usually this is a harmless and common arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm) that is considered within normal limits.

This observation is often made in horses that also have a very low heart rate. A very low heart rate in a horse is generally not considered a problem and is often seen in very fit horses.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) paying particular attention to mucous membrane color, CRT, pulse, and general attitude and appetite. If you do not notice any other abnormality, exercise your horse lightly (trot them for 5 minutes) and recheck the heart with a stethoscope. The missing beat should disappear with the increase in heart rate.

Monitor your horse for other signs of illness or abnormalities and contact your vet with your findings and concerns. Ask your vet to listen to the heart when they next see your horse.


Your vet will help you determine whether your horse’s heart rhythm is within normal range, or if there is cause to worry. If there is a question about this finding’s significance, EKG and other heart diagnostics may need to be performed.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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