What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Poor Appearing, Ill Thrift, Generally


Generally poor health is a very common complaint that can result from a huge variety of underlying causes. It's so common a complaint in fact, that I was taught an acronym for it in vet school- ADR (aint doin' right). However, taken alone, this sign is usually too broad to help your vet narrow down the problem.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

your role


What To Do

If you notice that your horse is in poor health, that is a good starting point for additional observation. Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and take some time to carefully watch your horse and assess their environment for any other problems.

Try to identify with greater precision the reasons underlying your assessment. Is your horse not eating as well or as fast as usual? Are they being pushed out by others and not getting adequate feed? Is their coat dull, or body condition slipping too either extreme, either too skinny or too fat? Has their personality changed?

Do they seem depressed, bothered or in pain? Have there been any recent changes lately in your horse's environment? Is your horse current on vaccinations, hoof care, and dental care? What is your deworming protocol? Have you had a fecal exam performed recently or recent deworming? Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not waste time attempting treatments and remedies without first having your vet try to rule out common diagnoses.

your vet's role

Your vet will assess your horse's overall health, their management and feeding. They will try to rule out underlying conditions or suggest changes in management and nutrition.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • How old is the horse?
  • Describe the problem to me in greater detail?
  • Has the feed or management changed recently?
  • What do you feed the horse?
  • Describe the type of exercise and riding that you do with your horse.
  • Is the injured horse a foal or a larger horse?
  • Are you feeding the horse alone or in a group?
  • What is your parasite control program?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP