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


Winded, Fatigues Easily with Work


The majority of horses that seem to fatigue too easily are simply out of shape. That said, diseases of many body systems may also cause horses to tire easily. The body systems most commonly associated with this finding are the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculo-skeletal systems.

If your horse is showing any sign of illness, do not force them to work or exercise until you have a better understanding about what is going on. Consider the horse's past performance in comparison to what it is now. Has anything changed that might account for the fatigue?

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
more observations

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), monitoring pulse and respiratory rate at 5 minutes and 10 minutes after exercise, and share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will try to rule out conditions that might be causing the rapid fatigue. History, physical exam, blood work and exercise challenge, among other tests, can all be helpful.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's exercise and performance history leading up to this?
  • What is the horse's Body Condition Score (BCS)?
  • Do you notice any other signs of disease, like coughing or lameness or respiratory noise?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • What do you feed the horse?

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
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP