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


Heart or Pulse Rate Low or Skipping Beats


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.

  • 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.

your role


What To Do

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's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What specifically, do you hear?
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • What is the horse's heart rate?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • What does the horse do for a living?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP